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92 

Gross 

Rhodes of Africa 



57-09020 




RHODES OF 




Cecil Rhodes 



RHODES 
OF AFRICA 

by 

FELIX /GROSS 



and 
pages of half-ton^ illustrations 




FREDERICK A. PRAEGER 
NEW YORK 



BOOKS THAT MATTER 

Pioblistied in trie United States o 

America in 1957 by Frederick: A. Praeger, 

Inc., Pxzblisliers, 150 East 5.znd Street, 

ISTew York ^a, N.Y. 

reserved 



Library of" 
Catalog Card rsfixmber: 5 ~j 7 63 .2, 



n 



In Memoriam 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 

rip HIS book, the result of twelve years of research work, is 
JL based on authentic contemporary sources. The thoughts and 
soliloquies of Cecil Rhodes are derived from his speeches, letters 
and reported conversations. So as not to interrupt the continuity 
of the story I have refrained from giving references in footnotes. 
An extensive bibliography of Rhodes and his times will be 
published later as it would be too bulky to be included in this 
volume. Ipi order to give inquisitive scholars an opportunity to 
make use of this bibliography one copy will be deposited in each 
of the following libraries: 

Public Library, Cape Town. 

Library of the British Museum., London. 

Bodleian Library, Oxford. 

Library of Congress, Washington (D.C.). 

I wish to express my gratitude to my daughter, Miss Ursula A, 
Gross, M.A., M.S., for her great assistance and patient collabora- 
tion. To Miss Anne Kramer, B.A., and Mr Sidney Macer- Wright, 
my cordial thanks for their useful help. 



CONTENTS 
PARTI 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I TO AFRICA 3 

ii DIAMONDSI DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 15 

III C THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE 3 }I 

IV GOD*S CHOSEN PAINTER 46 

V ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 64 

VI THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 83 

vii 'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW* 106 

VIII THE FAT OF THE LAND iz6 

PART II 

IX KING OF THE MATABELE 137 

X RED> BRITISH RED l6o 

XI A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 183 

XII ON THE PERSONAL 2*4 

XIII GROOTE SCHUUR 243 

PART III 

XIV THE UPSET APPLECART 273 

XV A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 296 

XVI *. . . ALL BUT THE BOILS* 323 

XVII UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 341 

xvin WAR 359 

XIX SO MANY WORLDS 386 

INDEX 421 



vii 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 
Cecil Rhodes (Picture Post) Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

Cecil Rhodes 5 birthplace at Bishop's Stortford (Camera Press) 22 

Rhodes aged about 17 (Rhodes Memorial Museum, 'Bishop's 

Stortford} - 22 

Dry sorting for diamonds in 1872 (Rhodes Memorial Museum) 23 

L. S. Jameson, C. F. Harrison, F. C. Selous, A. R. Colquhoun 

(Rhodesia House) 23 

The diamond market at Kimberley in 1888 (Exclusive News 

Agency) 54 

Alfred Beit (Picture Post\ 54 

The Kimberley Club in 1888 (Exclusive News Agency) 55 

Charles Rudd (Rhodes Memorial Museum) 5 5 

De Beers Diamond Mines at Kimberley (Exclusive News 

Agency) 118 

Barney Barnato (Elliott and Fry) 119 

The cheque drawn for the acquisition of the assets of the 

Central Company (RJbodes Memorial Museum) 119 

Sir Leander Jameson (Exclusive News Agency) 150 

The Indaba tree at Bulawayo (Exclusive News Agency) 151 

Lobengula, King of the Matabele (Exclusive News Agency) 151 

Paul Kruger and his wife (Exclusive News Agency) 278 

Olive Schreiner (Exclusive News Agency) 279 

Princess Radziwill (Picture Post) 279 

Groote Schuur (Exclusive News Agency) 310 

Parliament House, Cape Town (Exclusive News Agency) 310 

The cottage in which Rhodes died (Exclusive News Agency} 311 

The grave of Rhodes (Exclusive News Agency) 311 



PART I 



CHAPTER I 

TO AFRICA 

o T RANGERS often mistook the ugly grey three-storeyed house 
O for a boarding-school* Its cold drabness and the noise pro- 
duced by the many children may have led to this assumption. To 
the inhabitants of Bishop's Stortford the building was familiar as 
the Vicarage. They did not see anything ugly in its bleak grey 
walls; on the contrary, it appeared to most of the few thousand 
people of this sleepy Hertfordshire market-town as an imposing 
structure with its numerous wide windows and the many little 
brown earthen chimneys on an almost flat shingle roof. 

In front of this house there now stood often in the early 
mornings an elderly tall slim man. His finely-shapen head with 
the wide forehead of a thinker, crowned by a tuft of long white 
hair, and his prominent hooked nose indicated a remarkable 
personality. The Reverend Francis William Rhodes did not need 
clerical dress to stamp him as a clergyman. 

Among his parishioners the Vicar's courtesy and charitable 
activities earned him respect rather than popularity, though 
people had become accustomed to his unconventional manners 
and eccentric ways. Everyone considered him an excellent 
preacher and not only because his sermons never lasted more than 
ten minutes. All knew of his deep and sincere religiosity. His 
family had to attend every church service and his children had to 
take turns as teachers at Sunday school. As a reward they received 
a pious book every year. 

Watching the Vicar waiting anxiously for something or some- 
one every morning, the townspeople at first thought that he had 
developed a new eccentricity. Soon they found that he was on 
the look-out for the postman. Was he then so deeply interested in 
the progress of the war between the French and the Prussians 
that he had to obtain his copy of The Times a few minutes 
earlier? 

Others knew better: he was hoping that the postman would 
bring one of the rare letters fr6m South Africa. If a man has 

[3] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

three sons in that wild part of the world, and one of them a mere 
lad, it Is little wonder if he is worried. 

The Reverend Mr Rhodes missed his sons. It had lately become 
oppressively quiet in the Vicarage* At one time there had been 
twelve children filling the house. From his first wife, who had 
died two years after their marriage, there had been one daughter. 
His second marriage had been blessed with two daughters and 
nine sons. The eldest daughter had married her cousin, another 
Rhodes, and two of the boys had died in infancy, so that there 
had still been nine children to bring up. 

Mr Rhodes was not a rich man but he had cherished the 
ambition that his seven sons, his * Seven Angels of the Seven 
Churches', as he called them, should enter the church. First, of 
course* they had to pass through one of England's old public 
schools, to make gentlemen of them. He himself had succeeded, 
through his education at Harrow and Cambridge, in ascending on 
the social ladder from being the son of a simple though quite 
well-to-do farmer in Essex to becoming a member of the seemingly 
impenetrable caste of gentlefolk. About his ancestors he knew 
only little. In the seventeenth century they had been cow-keepers 
and farmers. Later one of them had also owned a brick and tile 
works. 

Why they came to bear the name of an island in the Aegean 
Sea was unknown. People, judging by the outlandish name and 
the prominent large ^Rhodes nose', were convinced that they saw 
some definite Semitic traits in their features. Jewish descent of 
the Rhodes family was the more feasible since many Jewish 
inhabitants had left the island of Rhodes in the seventeenth 
century for Italy, whence several emigrated to London, and they 
may have changed their foreign name to one indicating their 
place of origin. 

The Reverend Mr Rhodes was less concerned about the past 
than about the future of his family. By sending his eldest son* 
Herbert, to Winchester and the next two, Frank and Ernest, to 
Eton, he believed he had laid for them the foundation of a 
successful clerical career. Great had been his disappointment when 
all three declared that they had decided to become officers in the 
Army, He realked that he could not force them into taking Holy 
orders, but was determined not to help them financially in their 
purpose. His obstruction did not deter the boys. Most probably 

[4] 



TO AFRICA 

they were encouraged by their aunt, Sophia Peacock Aunt 
Sophy the wealthy spinster-sister of his wife, who had always 
spoilt them. Aunt Sophy financed Herbert when he entered a 
crack cavalry regiment, paid him a liberal monthly allowance and 
promised to do the same for Frank and Ernest. 

None of the three eldest Rhodes boys was really suited for the 
pulpit. In his earliest youth the eldest boy, Herbert, had shown his 
unruly temperament and adventurous spirit. He did not fit into 
the discipline of army life either. What should be done with a 
young man whose only asset for the struggle of life was his educa- 
tion as a gentleman, who had no means and who had not learnt 
anything practical? There was no room in England for second 
sons of the nobility, much less for other young gentlemen if they 
could not find a niche in the Army, the Church or politics. 

To emigrate? Yes, but where? To Africa? Prospects for settlers 
in the Cape Colony had been quite good, people said, until recently. 
Reports on the Natal Colony sounded more promising: a rich, 
almost untapped country where on luscious ground, aided by 
a sub-tropical climate, everything grew by itself. For the modest 
sum of a few hundred pounds one could buy some hundreds of 
acres and Eve the free life of a real gentleman-farmer, letting the 
Kaffirs do the work for a few pence. One could mix there with 
one's own class and would not have to |ear trouble with those 
uncouth Boers to which one was exposed in the Cape. 

Herbert left the Army and sailed for Natal. Frank, the second 
son, who neither possessed the easy and amiable manners of his 
eldest brother nor was blessed with great intelligence or initiative, 
also chose an army career but as his commission could not be 
expected for some time, he too was packed off to South Africa, 

The third son, a rather indifferent youngster, and later two 
younger boys, followed the example of the two eldest brothers. 
Thus five of the *Seven Angels of the Seven Churches*, to their 
father's bitter disappointment, had preferred the sword to the 
crucifix. Only two were to remain civilians. 

His fourth son, Cecil John, the sixth child of the Vicar's second 
marriage, remained his fathers last hope of seeing at least one 
of his boys follow his vocation. Cecil, a difficult child, was 
different from the others whom he outstripped by far not only 
in inteUigence and energy, but also in stubbornness. He resembled 
most his elder sister Edith. Both had inherited from the Rhodes 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

side beside the prominent "Rhodes nose' their energy, imagina- 
tion, shyness and a predilection for seclusion. 

Cecil's temper, already in his earliest years, was unpredictable, 
changing suddenly from gentleness to an outburst of rage. He 
was a slender pale-looking child whose delicate build gave a 
wrong impression of frailty* His fair hair, with a golden glint, 
Hs grey-blue dreamy eyes, made him an attractive and pleasant 
child to look at, 

Cecil was born on 5 July 1853. He grew up at a time when 
England was going through a bitter period of bloody wars: the 
Crimean War; the Indian Mutiny; the expedition to China; armed 
intervention in Mexico; a conflict with the United States; bom- 
bardment of Japanese ports; war in Abyssinia; uprising in Ireland. 
Britannia was feeling the first pangs of imperialistic labour- 
pains, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, the bastard children of 
the Industrial Revolution, were preparing themselves to act as 
midwives at the birth of the Imperium 'Britannicum* 

Such a time of flag-waving would make an impression on any 
boy, even one not as sensitive as the Reverend Mr Rhodes* fourth 
son. And Cecil Rhodes as a boy was extremely sensitive, introvert 
and lonely. He could not make friends. To the boys at school, who 
all called each other by their Christian names, he always remained 
just 'Rhodes'. It was probably his proud bearing, the refinement in 
his speech and also perhaps a slight girlishness in him, which pre- 
vented the young ruffians from taking to Hm, Cecil did not even 
take a great interest in the school sports; only once, in his thirteenth 
year, did he become a member of his school's cricket eleven- 
Mrs Rhodes, ni* Peacock, was already thirty years old when 
she became the Vicar's second wife. For almost twenty years of 
her life she was either pregnant or had to feed the latest baby. 
Besides her duties as a housewife and keeping the wild crowd of 
growing children under control, it could hardly have been easy 
to be the wife of so eccentric a maa as the Reverend Mr Rhodes. 
She tried hard to balance the Vicar's Spartan educational methods 
by tender sympathy. Her charming ways, a deep understanding 
for the worries of her little folk, and a dreamy romanticism left 
their mark particularly on her most difficult children, on her 
second daughter Edith and on Cecil The strong and uaconvea- 
tional nature and disciplinarian principles of the father,, the soft- 
ness and romantic nature of the mother, formed in, these two 

[6] 



TO AFRICA 



children a strange duality of character which was later to ripen 
in each into an anomalous personality. 

Mother Rhodes was particularly worried about CeciPs frequent 
outbursts of uncontrolled temper which seemed strange in a boy 
with an otherwise amiable temperament. Not that she minded his 
being able to use his fists well on other boys. She was less pleased, 
however, when his teacher reported that Cecil, believing himself 
to have been punished unjustly, picked up a book to throw at the 
master's head. At the last second he must have realized what he was 
doing; with a vicious bang he threw it on his desk, muttering 
something which might have been either an apology or a curse. 

It seemed a great pity to the mother that each of her children 
grew up for himself without confiding in the others. Each was 
too strong an individuality to harmonize with the other members 
of the family. Yet at any threat from the outside they put up a 
united front. 

The Rhodes boys knew most of the people in the district and 
as real boys always managed to ride past certain pkces where 
they would be sure to meet young girls. Cecil, however, never 
turned after any girl and did not even seem to see them. His 
critical remarks were directed rather at the farmlands through 
which they rode. "This is a lazy farmer. Look, how untidy his 
furrows areP . . . 'This one looks well after his stock. You can 
see how healthy his cattle lookP . . * "Lucerne should never be 
grown hereP . . . 

Cecil never paid much attention to dress. One day he asked 
his brother Frank for the loan of his 'best' shirt as he was going 
to London. * You can't have it/ Frank replied. *I need it myself for 
tonight. 9 Frank knew that if Cecil wanted something, he would 
never give up before he obtained it. He watched him all day. Great 
was his surprise when on opening his drawer he found his 'best* 
shirt gone. When Cecil returned, Frank cornered him immediately: 

"Well, Cecil, you won over that shirt of mine; but just tell me 
how you did it, for it wasn't on you when you. left here and you 
had no parcel with you. What did you do with it?* 

Cecil chuckled a little but his reply came coldly: 'I put it on 
under the old oneP 

Cecil did not shine as a scholar. His father, still hoping that 
this one of the 'Seven Angels of the Seven Churches' would take 
Holy orders, supervised his progress at the local grammar school. 

M 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Young Cecil seemed to have been particularly interested in history 
and geography. At times he did well in the classics and even gained 
a distinction in this subject, whilst one year he brought home 
a silver medal, a prize in elocution. 

Parents and teachers were once baffled when they found that 
thirteen-year-old Cecil had chosen as a motto for the red-plush- 
covered souvenir album of a class mate, the words: *To do or to 
diel* His teachers and parents probably did not realize that this 
precocious thought was not original. It had been taken from a 
bombastic poem by the Scottish poet, Thomas Campbell, Pleasures 
of Hope, which contained the words: 'Tomorrow let us do or die/ 

When Cecil finished school in 1869 at the age of sixteen, the 
question of his future became acute. His father, eager that the boy 
should go either to Oxford or, preferably, to Cambridge, tutored 
him in the classics in preparation for the entrance examination. 
His future worried the boy. He was convinced that he was not 
suited for a career in the Army like his three elder brothers. He 
was also sure that he would not be able to fulfil his father's wish 
and enter the Church. He thought that he might become a lawyer, 
though he realized that it would be a hard struggle to win his 
father's consent, knowing his deadly hatred for lawyers and 
everything connected with courts of law. 

Cecil confided in Aunt Sophy to whom he would have to apply 
for financial help in any case. She too would have preferred her 
nephew to become a clergyman, a much 'nicer' profession than 
that of a lawyer and almost equal in the social scale to that of an 
officer. In his dilemma Cecil tried diplomacy, using at die end of 
a carefully worded letter as his chief argument the religious issue, 
with which, as he must have known, he could easily impress an 
elderly English spinster: 

I cannot deny for it would only be hypocrisy to say otherwise, 
that I still above everything would like to be a barrister; but I agree 

with you it is a very precarious profession. Next to that I think 
a clergyman's life is the nicest; and therefore I shall most earnestly 
try to go to College, because I have fully determined to be one of 
these two, and a college education is necessary for both, 1 think 
that as a barrister a man may be" just as good a Christian as in any 
other profession. . . , 

His future career, however^ was not to be decided by his father, 

[8] 



TO AFRICA 

his aunt or himself. Instead, a swarm of vivid little tubercles in 
his lungs were destined to shape the fate of a man, of an Empire 
and of a whole continent. 

Shortly after he left school Cecil began to aiL The worried" 
father took him to a London doctor who advised him to send the 
boy as soon as possible away from England's murderous climate 
to a sunnier land. 

What could be more natural than that Cecil should join his 
eldest brother Herbert in Natal where he would surely soon 
regain his health with the help of the African sun? Aunt Sophy 
with her usual generosity provided the necessary funds for the 
voyage and in addition 2,000 to make him as comfortable as, f 
possible and help him settle there. 

From the time when his parents had bade him farewell at 
Gravesend on a hot June day in 1870, he had looked forward to 
the day of his arrival in Durban when he would shake hands with 
his eldest brother Herbert. Herbert was not there. 

Cecil Rhodes looked around but without losing sight of his 
luggage. Under his arm he had stuffed a somewhat crushed map 
of Africa, Ever since his journey had been decided upon, he had 
often studied this map until late at night. During the seventy 
days of his voyage the same map had helped him pass the time. 
For hours, when he was not busy studying his Greek and Latin 
grammars or translating from the classics, he would look at the 
two small red spots which marked the only British possessions in 
the vastness of the African continent, the Cape Colony and NataL 

After a long wait the unhappy boy saw a gentleman coming 
towards Mm. He introduced himself as Dr Sutherland, Surveyor- 
General of Natal, and a good friend of Herbert's. Herbert had 
asked him to look after his young brother, Herbert, he was told, 
was away. As a matter of fact Herbert was on an expedition to the 
Vaal Kiver to look for diamonds. Herbert, if the truth be told, 
had left his cotton plantation in the Umkomaas Valley a few 
months earlier in order to join Captain Rolleston who was leading 
several other gentlemen of the zoth Infantry Regiment on this 
exciting and novel game of discovering hidden riches; Herbert, 
to be quite frank, should not be expected back soon; to put it 
altogether bluntly, Herbert had not been very successful with his 
cotton-growing. 

[9] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Df Sutherland took Cecil to his house near Pietermaritfcburg, 
the capital of Natal, there to await his brother's return. Mrs 
Sutherknd took charge of the shy sickly-looking boy who appeared 
much younger than his age. He gave no trouble. All day long he 
read, mostly in his school-books, or he leaned over his crushed 
map of Africa spread out on the floor. 

Dr Sutherland often tried to drag him away from his books. 

'What's the use of studying Roman and Greek classics in the 
wilds of South Africa, Cecil?* 

C I promised my father, sir, to pass the Varsity entrance exam 
after I come back/ 

'What for, Cecil? Stay here in this country of sunshine. . . / 

c No, sir, I promised my father to become a clergyman.' 

'Then I am sure, Cecil, you'll end as a village parson.' 

Only when he heard the clatter of horses' hoofs or the creaking 
of a wagon, bringing visitors, did he come down quickly into the 
drawing-room. Unobtrusively he would sit in a corner. His 
mouth slightly open, his grey-blue eyes sparkling, rubbing his 
chin nervously with his forefinger, he would listen to the news 
and stories brought by travellers and friends. 

No matter how the conversation started, it inevitably turned 
to the main point of interest which for two years had not only 
seized the whole of South Africa but had been a magnet to 
adventurous souls in every part of the world: Diamonds! These 
little pieces of crystallized carbon, for which mankind at that 
time had no use other than as decorations for women's hands, 
ears or necks, or to be encrusted in the crown-jewels of some 
potentate; these brilliantly shining volcanic products of the 
Earth's womb were to cost the Hves of thousands of innocent 
men, to enrich a few and to change the map of a continent. 

When one of the first diamonds was discovered among the 
paraphernalia of a Native witch-doctor, Sir Richard Southey, the 
Lieutenant-Governor, laid it on the Table of the Cape Parliament 
with the prophetic words: 'Gentlemen, this is the rock on which 
the future success of South Africa wiE be built!* 

And to this rock there flocked the human ravens, the eagles, 
the vultures, the wolves, the jackals and the moles; they all 
assembled along the banks of the Orange atud Vaal rivers where 
within a few weeks several thousand men had staked their luck. 
Their courage was repaid to only a very few. 



TO AFRICA 

One of many, Herbert Rhodes soon gave up hope and returned 
to his cotton plantation at the end of the year 1870 Cecil met 
him there and the two brothers agreed to throw their lot together. 
Cecil exercised his right on a free grant of 50 acres. All their 
land was densely covered with euphorbia. Before his unsuccessful 
diamond adventure Herbert had already cleared 45 of his 200 acres 
of this useless thorny bush. 

Cecil engaged a gang of Zulus and organized their work. 
Within a few months he could proudly show his brother 100 
acres ready for cultivation* It was no easy task to work with 
these Natives who had not yet had much contact with European 
civilization. Before he knew the small luxuries of modern life and 
was forced to adopt at least partly European dress, the South 
African Native had no use for money. Work was thus no necessity 
for him. All work, at home and in the fields, with the exception of 
hunting for meat, was done by his women-folk. It called for 
special enticement to lure them to the farms, and a good psycho- 
logical understanding of their primitive though complicated 
mentality to keep them there. Cecil soon found out that many 
Natives needed money to pay their hut-tax. He lent them the 
money on their promise to work for him. And they never let him 
down. 'Kaffirs', he wrote home, 'are really safer than the Bank of 
England.* 

If a seventeen-year-old boy with no experience of how to treat 
people, white or black, who did not know the language and had 
been in the country for only a few months, had achieved such 
success, it was only natural that settlers even from far away 
should come to see this miracle. 

But they shook their heads disapprovingly. 'Impossible. You 
can't grow cotton in the Umkomaas Valley! ImpossibleP 

The Rhodes brothers were not disheartened when the first crop 
failed. Carefully Cecil reflected on what might have been the 
cause of this sad result. He explained it to Herbert: *One cannot 
fight against grubs, boreworms, caterpillars. One has to distract 
these little beasts from the cotton by something more attractive 
say to grow every eighty feet a bushel or two of mealies* And we 
did not calculate how rich this virgin soil really was. Neither did 
we realize what luxuriant growth this hot-house-like steamy valley 
would produce. We also failed to realize that the rows had been 
made much too close to each other thus suffocating the expanding 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

plants. We will have to double the space between them. To 
make good the loss we will have to plant more. To decrease 
expenses we will have to use a plough. . . / 

Again the old settlers shook their heads. Cecil, once the planting 
was done, set about to build for himself and his brother a proper 
homestead. Every day he could be seen, wearing nothing but a 
shirt and an old pair of trousers more full of holes than patches, 
making mud-bricks. Within a few weeks he had finished two huts, 
one as a storehouse for future cotton crops and the other to live 
in. A new life had begun for him. He explored the neighbourhood 
and grew lyrical when reporting home about the mountain ravines 
above the valley. 

, , . It was one immense natural fernery, and there, hundreds of 
feet below us, stretched out the whole valley with our huts looking 
like specks, and in the distance hills rising one above the other with 
a splendid blue tint on them* . . 

Soon he could no longer spare time for such excursions. Again 
his ambition to go to Oxford had flared up, and with an eye on 
the Natives he bent over his books trying to penetrate the 
intricacies of Greek syntax or the refinements of Latin poetry. 

The next was a bumper crop. Not only were the losses of the 
previous year made good, but the brothers were able to show a 
good profit At the agricultural show of the district Cecil's cotton 
earned him a second prize of five pounds. When he returned 
from the platform after receiving his prisse, he chuckled* jingling 
the five golden sovereigns in his trouser pocket and whispered 
to his fatherly old friend Dr Sutherland: 

*Ahl yes, they told me I couldn't grow cotton! * 

Cecil planned to clear many more acres for planting cotton at 
the end of the following year but Herbert was bored* He thirsted 
for adventure. His gambler's nature could only be satisfied by 
high stakes. After long persuasion Cecil agreed to accompany 
him on a trip without knowing Ms brother's intentions. In his 
casual manner Herbert informed Hm on the way that they were 
going up to the northern Transvaal, in the neighbourhood of 
Delagoa Bay, There lived a Native chief, Secoconi-, who was said 
to own a big bag of diamonds* Herbert's plan was to trade guns 
for them. They had bought a few old breech-loaders and Herbert 
had even succeeded in getting hold of two brass cannons. 



TO AFRICA 

Unfortunately for them, the Boers on the Transvaal border kept 
a sharp look-out for gun-runners. The two Rhodes boys just 
managed to escape after dumping the two cannons in a river. 

It was the first of many encounters where a lucrative Rhodes 
business proposition was frustrated by the diligence of the Boers 
of the Transvaal. 

Twenty years later the two cannons were unearthed and 
believed to be antique pieces used in earlier times in a Portuguese 
fort. When they were proudly brought to a museum in Pretoria 
Cecil Rhodes had a good laugh. He was never ashamed to tell this 
story of his juvenile adventure apparently quite unaware of its 
moral implications. Gun-running in the whole of Africa was 
never considered an honest or honourable occupation; and the 
two brothers should have known that Secoconi's diamonds must 
have been originally stolen by Natives employed in the diamond 
river diggings. 

After their return from the Transvaal, wherever they went 
they heard the wildest rumours about the discovery of enormous 
diamond fields on some farms in the Orange Free State, in a 
district inhabited by the Griqua tribe and not far from the banks 
of the rivers where thousands were still hopefully combing the 
sands for diamonds. What was at first believed to be just occasional 
small finds had proved to be a real Eldorado. One merely had to 
scratch the soil, and pick up diamonds like potatoes on an Irish 
farm. When hearing of this dreamland in the spring of 1871, 
Herbert Rhodes pranced like a thoroughbred behind the starter's 
flag. Off he was on the long trek to the new diamond fields. All 
the available money the two brothers could spare he took with 
him. Cecil remained in the broiling Umkomaas Valley, preparing 
his third cotton crop. 

In Dr Sutherland's home he met Captain Rolleston, the great 
man of the river washings. He had just returned from the new 
diamond-fields and showed them one big and several small 
diamonds which he had picked up there on a claim he had bought 
for a few pounds. When Cecil felt the coolness of the big stone 
a, peculiar feeling took hold of him. He had to swallow several 
times. And the great Rolleston talked of three Vhoppers*, one 
worth 8,000, another 9,000 and the third 10,000 aad told of the 
man who had found the biggest stone: c Yes, this chap offered his 
claim for fifteen bob the evening before and no one would buy it/ 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

At night Cecil dreamt of diamonds. Should he not rather give 
up the struggle of taming this obstinate African soil in this soul- 
killing hot-house climate? He discussed it with Dr Sutherland: 

. . . Of course there is a chance of the diamonds turning up trumps; 
but I don't count much on them. You see, it is all chance . . . Herbert 
may not find one or he may find one of a hundred carats: it is a 
toss-up. But the cotton, the more you see of it, the more I am sure 
it is a reality. Not a fortune, and not attainable by everyone; but still, 
to one who has a good bit of land, money to start it properly, a fair 
road and above all a good name amongst the Kaffirs, it gives a very 
handsome income. . . . 

He had not yet realized that farming in South Africa implicates 
a permanent struggle with Nature which disperses her favours 
and curses there in extremes. The land is either so dry that plants 
and animals fade away as in a desert; or, the next season, it may 
be floods which drown everything in their stride. Cecil Rhodes 
had to gain this knowledge the hard way. Everything on his 
plantation went wrong. After a sluit had dried out, his plants, 
through lack of water, died or became an easy prey to all the 
pests in the country. 

In desperation he confessed to Dr Sutherland: *It really seems 
an ill-fated valley. You would be surprised if I told you what a 
sink it has been. I believe if one only kept on, it has a capacity 
to absorb any amount of capital/ 

'"""""In October 1871 eighteen-year-old Cecil succumbed to the 
lures of the diamonds in the land of the Griquas. He packed his 
few belongings into a Scotch cart, drawn by a span of sixteen sleek 
hand-picked oxen. The necessary few diggers' tools he strapped 
on top of the shaky vehicle. Next to his seat, wrapped in his 
travelling plaid, he threw his school-books, the Latin and Greek 
classics and a fat tome of a Greek dictionary. 

And so the sixteen oxen started their slow trek, pulling the 
cart westwards over the blue mountains, actoss the green and 
yellow and purple veld, through the greyness of desert-like long 
stretches, between red-sWmng kopjes which looked like giant 
warts on the sun-bathed landscape, past the mushroom-like 
black-roofed white huts of Native kraals, through dark forest 
cathedrals built of giant trees, through mud and sand and grass 
and stones, taking a young boy to his destiny* 



CHAPTER II 



DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 

His rickety table consisted of a tumed-up packing-case. A 
rusty bucket served him as a seat. In an empty corner lay 
a pile of books topped by a Greek grammar, covered with a fine 
yellow sand. On his lap he held open a school-edition of Virgil's 
poems. Cecil Rhodes was dreaming or thinking, or, as often 
happened, in a state of complete absent-mindedness, his fore- 
finger rubbing his chin in gentle rhythm. Even now, in his 
nineteenth year, he looked like a schoolboy who had grown too 
quickly out of his clothes. South Africa's sun had turned his 
former paleness into a healthy ruddy complexion. He wore a pair 
of shrunken school cricket trousers on which numerous stains of 
reddish-yellow sand, of oil and of rust had resisted several 
attempts at washing without soap and with a minimum of water* 
The sleeves of his school blazer went only half-way down from 
elbow to wrist. In spite of his clothes, with his finely-cut features, 
his fair longish hair blown by the wind, he could not but be taken 
for what he was: a typical member of the English middle-class. 

At first the men around him, the rough adventurers, had tried 
to aim their crude jokes at him. Soon they found out their mistake: 
this milksop of a boy, this spoilt mother's darling, this sleepy- 
eyed whipper-snapper, was a damned fine reg'lar feller who knew 
how to dig a claim every bit as well as the oldest digger. And 
what he didn't know about diamonds was nobody's business. 
Let him stand there with mouth open and eyes half-closed, his 
hands deep in his pockets, dreaming away; or let him sit on his 
throne of a bucket reading one of those bloody learned books; he 
knows just the same what is going on around him. If his Kaffirs 
and he has the best of them, all Zulus he brought with him from 
Natal stop digging only for a minute, sixty feet below in the 
crater hole, if the hauling of the buckets begins to slacken, or the 
sifting of the yellow sand becomes slower, up he is and at them, 
this bastard of a mite. . . . Even if his fanny voice when he is in 
a rage sounds like an old clarinet full of spittle, he can swear in 

['Sl 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

good old English at which any sea-dog would blush like an old 
maid on her wedding-night. , . ; And this six-foot specimen of 
a booby who looks as if he cannot count up to three, is a damned 
good businessman, beating any of the bloody Jew-boys here 
hollow when it comes to selling his stones. All these large- 
mouthed swells of diamond-merchants who just arrived from 
Paris, Amsterdam, and Hamburg and that crowd from London's 
Hatton Garden, who think themselves so awfully clever, imagining 
that they can pick up bargains here for next to nothing have met 
their match in that scraggy, spindle-legged, muzzy-looking son 
of a parson. It tickles one pink to see this unlicked cub put the 
crooked noses of the big expert swells out of joint. And Master 
Cecil seems to run the show on his claims and bosses his two 
elder brothers around as if they were his errand-boys. The eldest 
one, Herbert, does not care a damn any more about these claims 
and Frank you know, the other Rhodes who came out here 
recently to help his brothers he does just what Cecil tells him. 
Cecil that boy has vim* Let the people kugh at him and his 
books; that boy is akeady worth several thousand pounds. . . . 

Nobody, in this year of grace 1872, had much time even to 
smile in the new township of Kimberley, which, in the form of 
thousands of tents, wooden shacks or mere hovels covered with 
hessian, had suddenly sprung up on the veld in the territory of 
Waterboer, Chief of the Griquas, bordering on the two Boer 
republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. More than 
ten thousand white men had raced to this deserted spot on the 
South African flat plains, where the vast emptiness, covered with 
a thick blue carpet of grass after the rains, appeared still more 
desolate for the few isolated camelthorn bushes and single mimosa 
trees. These men were no longer merely foteign adventurous 
have-nots, the down-and-out fortune-lmnters of the River dig- 
gings. The diamond fever had seized respectable members of the 
English middle-class and with them came the human flotsam and 
jetsam of England's big towns: the gamblers, the publicans, the 
loafers, the criminals and the pimps. London's ghetto of the 
East End spat out its Tuuftmenschen, those who seemed to live in. 
and of the air, and all ambitious youngsters who did not want 
to spend their lives in the sticky sweatshops of Mile End Road 
as their fathers had done before them. It seemed a strange 

[16] 



DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 

company: the elegant young men, younger sons of England's 
nobility for whom no place could be found in the land of their 
fathers, and the big army of broken-down elements who had 
come into conflict with die country's laws or unwritten social 
tenets. 

They all came to the Black Continent with only one wish, one 
hope, one aim: to become richl rich! rich! Their minds turned 
around one single thought, one single subject, one single idea: 
diamonds! diamonds! diamonds! 

For diamonds they endured cruel hardships. No matter if the 
temperature rose to well over 100 in the day or sank at night 
to below freezing-point. Men who were accustomed to have 
wholesome meals served by well-trained servants on shining 
china plates, sat down dirty to gulp a dish of foul-smelling stew, 
cooked by filthy Kaffirs, and served in a rusty tin. A ground- 
sheet spread under a sail-plane had taken the place of a spring- 
mattress and a thin cotton blanket had to serve as a cover. How 
could they wash when a bucket of water cost more than a gallon 
of beer in London's most expensive hotel? Only those lucky 
ones, who had already struck it rich, could afford a weekly bath 
of soda-water, at five shillings a bottle. 

Over the whole plain, now called Kimberley, as far as the eye 
could see, the thousands of tents looked as if giant mushrooms 
had suddenly sprung out of the soil; between them the white- 
covered wagons appeared like monstrous caterpillars. The spiders, 
Scotch carts, Cape carts, landaus and coaches by which the 
fortune-hunters had come hundreds of miles and which now 
served many of them as 'homes', seemed, with their shafts pointing 
up to the sky, like antediluvian dragons ready to swallow their 
next victims with their threatening jaws. Dotted round the camps 
lay piles of filthy garbage and the skeletons of horses and mules, 
which had just been cleared by Nature's health-inspectors, the 
jackals and the vultures. From the other side there penetrated 
the stench of the Native kraals. No one had time. Not even the 
body of a dead man aroused anybody's interest. Sympathy? No 
time here for such sentimentalities. If a man was shot or stabbed 
to death in a brawl, murdered or robbed by a Kaffir, it was his 
own business. There was a tent which served as a clead-house. 
Who cares that the wild dogs and the jackals came at night to 
feast on the corpses. Have a quick one with me, brother! . . . 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

To find self-forgetfulness one could dope oneself by risking 
a week's earnings or more on a little roulette-ball or on the 
"Devil's Prayer Book'. Women of course were needed for 
occasional happiness. Only a few unattached females and not 
the youngest, the most beautiful or the most virtuous had dared 
to encroach on territory reserved for rough men out to make 
money. 

In the infernal summer heat you could work for only a few 
hours at a stretch. Exhausted, you flung your aching, sweating 
body on the ground > burying even your face in the yellow soil 
for coolness. You could count yourself lucky if you did not 
succumb to the many illnesses in the camp caused by the absence 
of the most primitive hygienic precautions, by the bad and scarce 
water, the imperfectly canned meat and fish, the absence of 
vegetables, the heat and the overcrowded tents. They called it 
camp-fever and hundreds went down with it. Today it would 
have been diagnosed as dysentery aggravated by malaria. 

Nobody complained. They bore their burden patiently driven 
on by the thought of diamonds diamonds diamonds 

If hope dwindled, there was always at every few hundred yards 
a marquee where a strong drink could restore courage. Those 
who could not afford anything better took refuge in drowning 
their worries in 'Cape Smoke 5 , a strong liquor made of the dregs 
of grapes. 

Overnight the newly found diamonds had changed the 
economic structure of South Africa. Natives left their kraals in 
thousands. Before, when they were forced to work on the farms 
for a few pence a day, they had to be satisfied with earning a 
sheep twice a year and permission to cultivate a small stretch of 
land and to graze their cattle or goats. Now the Native had 
become a substantial component of an industrial venture and 
had to be coaxed to do his part. Tens of thousands of these 
Natives were crushed together in camps not far from that of 
the diggers. 

Diamonds had even affected Nature. Where the veld had only 
a few months earlier abounded in game and birds, there were 
now only the vultures. The invaders had upset the balance of 
nature in the veld by bringing with them in their wagons the 
rats, mosquitoes, ticks, mice, fleas and lice as well as a good 
assortment of bacteria and germs. 

[18] 



DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 

Diamonds had upset South Africa's politics. Before the great 
rush nobody was interested in this treeless country. Chief Water- 
boer of the Griquashad lived there undisturbed. Only a very few 
Boers had settled in his land, and just managed to exist on what 
the sandy soil produced. After the first diamonds had been found, 
both Boer Republics, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State* 
claimed the territory as their own. The Orange Free State, believing 
it had a legal claim to the land, asserted its sovereignty by formal 
occupation. Waterboer did not want to fall under the dependency 
of either of the Boer Republics. He offered his land to the English 
Queen, even after a court of arbitration had decided in his favour. 
London, meanwhile, had already learnt from experience that to 
rule over African Natives led to many expensive wars. A policy 
of non-interference and non-expansion on the African continent 
outside Britain's South African possessions had therefore been 
adopted. However, pressed by the resident high officials in Cape 
Town, Mr Gladstone, Her Majesty's Prime Minister, forgetting 
for the time being all his usual finely worded tirades in favour of 
Liberalism, pocketed Waterboer's diamondiferous land for 
Britain, and proclaimed it as British territory under the name of 
Griqualand West. The Orange Free State protested vehemently. 
Later Britain paid as compensation the generous sum of 90,000, 
an amount which corresponded to one week's output in diamonds 
at the time. 

To the two Boer governments the change on the very door- 
steps of their countries was disquieting. For several decades 
since the Great Trek in 1836, when they had escaped from British 
rule in the Cape Colony, they had lived peacefully, following a 
strict policy of isolation. Now England was pushing forward 
menacingly near their borders, upsetting the peace of the veld by 
a new kind of civilization and sending as the apostles of a novel 
creed the riff-raff of Europe who preached the gospel of quick 
wealth and spoilt the primitive African tribes with all the vices 
of the White Man. Diamonds had become a factor in British 
politics. The Boers had to face a new problem. 

When nineteen-year-old Cecil Rhodes joined the fortune- 
seekers, his ambition was aimed at earning sufficient money to 
go to Oxford. His tenacity of purpose made him overcome all 
the difficulties in preparing himself for the University amid the 
hubbub of a mining-camp, deprived of all privacy, and while 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

forced to devote most of his time and the best part of his brain- 
power to his digging enterprises. 

He was convinced that Oxford could not teach him anything 
he really wanted to learn. Not to acquire academic wisdom did 
he want to go there. Oxford, he hoped, would stamp him as a 
gentleman. 

When his friends came to his sorting-table and saw him deeply 
buried in his school-books there would be no end to their teasing: 

'Going up to Oxford soon, Cecil, to learn how to grow 
diamonds?' 

c Very true, you chaps/ he replied, 'the educational system of 
Oxford seems rather unpractical but look around and everywhere 
in England you will find Oxford men on topP 

Left alone, he would sit for hours staring at the stones in front 
of him. From the beginning he had become aware of the urgent 
need to learn thoroughly all he could about diamonds. One had 
to become closely acquainted with the many qualities and faults 
which regulated the price of a diamond and which depended not 
only on its weight but on its size, shape and colour. Diamonds 
occur in the finest pastel shades from a deep yellow to a bluish- 
white, from a nutty-brown to a light bronze. You may come 
across green, blue, pink, bronze yellow, orange and opaque 
diamonds. And only twenty-five out of a hundred stones will be 
both clear and of a blue-white colour to pass as perfect. One had 
to look sharp. The keenest eye often failed to detect a flaw. 

Cecil Rhodes was one of the first to use a watchmaker's magnify- 
ing glass to judge a diamond. With the glass squeezed in his eye 
he was easily able to discern a little black spot or a tiny white 
flaw inside a stone which would lower its value considerably* 
Sometimes great joy and the highest expectations were aroused 
when a perfectly shaped white and glassy stone was found. Only 
those familiar with the peculiarities of diamonds would be worried 
by the tinge of a smoky brown cloud in one corner of the stone. 
'Greeners' would buy such stpnes at low prices or exchange them 
against much smaller stones in the belief that they had struck a 
bargain. The next day, when they went to look at their great 
bargain, all they would find was a fine powder. These stones, 
when exposed to the light, would explode internally. 

To Cecil Rhodes diamonds were no longer mere pretty stones; 
a diamond to him was something above earthly conceptions, an 

[20] 



DIAMONDS! DIAMONDSI DIAMONDS! 

aristocrat produced by Nature. Unconsciously, in Ms letters home, 
he always wrote 'Diamonds* with a capital !D*. 

He was well informed on everything concerning diamonds. 
Old diggers often came to consult him before they sold their 
stones. The kopje wallopers^ as the itinerant diamond buyers were 
called, knew that they could play no tricks on him. He had 
akeady noticed that each of their testing scales showed a different 
weight. The slightest slant of the table might cost the seller a 
great deal of money. Cecil Rhodes did not trust anybody. He 
wrote to his friend, Dr Sutherland, to send him a water-level. The 
kopje wallopers shook their heads: C A clever boy, that mesbuggene 
longshanksP 

From his tent door Cecil Rhodes often looked down into the 
chasm of the big holes dug into what was once Colesberg Kopje. 
How was it possible that on this small round hill, the size of the 
garden at the Vicarage at home not more than 180 yards broad 
and 220 yards long some ten thousand people could work every 
day? It sounded very grand when one heard that somebody was 
the lucky owner of a claim, until one realized that each claim 
consisted of only 31 square feet and that in most cases each 
claim was split into four. Not even the whole claim was allowed 
to be worked. More than 7 feet had to be left as road. 

When diggers started to go deeper, differences in the depths 
of neighbouring holes soon developed. Reefs collapsed and feE 
into the neighbour's ground. Tempers ran high. The roads, well 
intended, also soon broke down. Chaos reigned everywhere. 
Here everyone thought only for himself and let the devil take the 
hindmost. 

Cecil Rhodes, his mouth slightly open, his hands deep in his 
trouser-pockets, observed each day for hours every phase of 
the working process. He knew that this primitive system of 
mining was doomed in the near future. In several mines the level 
of underground water had akeady been reached. 

Something had to be done. 

Cecil Rhodes had been more fortunate than many others. 
Through his friendship with the 'Red Caps', a group of young 
men owning what later became known as the Kimberley Mine, 
Herbert was able to peg three whole claims soon after its 
discovery. Cecil bought a quarter of a claim from him and he and 
two friends were partners in three-quarters of another claim. 

[21] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Herbert soon left. Little Cecil would manage the diamond affair 
better alone. 

And Cecil did make the three claims a complete success. The 
one-quarter of a claim which belonged to him alone proved to 
yield by far the most. Proudly he wrote to his mother: 

... I find on an average 30 carats a week and am working one of 
the few whole claims in the kopje; a claim in fact that will take me 
4 years to work out at the present rate. Diamonds have only to 
continue a fair price and I think Herbert's fortune is made. ... I 
average about hundred pounds per week. 

The entire letter sounded like the report of a mine manager to 
his board of directors, with its cold matter-of-fact description of 
diamonds, their peculiarities > shapes, colours, their prices and all 
the details of how they are found: 

. * * There are reefs all round these Diamond mines inside which 
the Diamonds are found. The reef is the usual soil of the country 
round, red sand just at the top and then a black and white stony 
shale below. . . . Inside the reef is the diamondiferous soil. It works 
just like Stilton cheese. . . . 

And so it goes on for pages. Not a single intimate note; not a 
word of a private nature; no endearment throughout the letter. 
It ends like a business communication, simply with <Yrs. C. 
Rhodes.' 

Mrs Rhodes must have been baffled by her son CeciL The 
Vicar, probably, feared for the soul of his son who seemed to 
have delivered himself completely to the God Mammon. Was it 
a consolation to the reverend gentleman that the elder brother 
reported from Kimberley about people's high opinion of Cecil; 
that 'he is such an excellent man of business', that 'Cecil was just 
the contrary to most young fellows when they set up there and 
do well and get so very bumptious . . . that he seems to have done 
wonderfully well as regards the diamonds. . . /? 

The Vicar would ptobably have been completely downcast if 
he had only suspected what had become of Ms son. 

Here was a young man, not yet twenty years of age, brought 
up in the well-guarded seclusion of a parsonage in a peaceful, 
almost dormant, little English rural town, who had suddenly 
been flung into the boiling cauldron of quickly made money, to 

[22] 



Cecil Rhodes' 
birthplace at Bishop's 
Stortford 




Rhodes aged about 17 
before he left for Africa 







!8S!': -''flit * -^.jpfr.xSlfl _ 

iiililSy,a^ 



Dry sorting for diamonds in 1872 before the advent of the Hand Washing Machine 
Note the sorting table in the foreground 



Left to right: L. S. Jameson, C R Harrison, K C. Selous, A. R. Colquhoun 




DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 

fight, all by himself, with and against the excrement of mankind, 
the world's worst crowd of fortune-hunters and parasites. 

His mental and apparently also his physical puberty was not 
yet completed* Lacking friends, his struggle with his ego made 
him retreat into himself. He had to deal exclusively with men 
older than himself. He became in turn moody, taciturn, excitable, 
impulsive, often even violent. 

One of his friends noticed already at that time that 'the duality 
of his nature, the contemplative and the executive, had a curious 
counterpart in his voice, which broke, when he was excited, into 
a sort of falsetto, unusual in a man of his make'. 

With people for whom he cared, he could at times be amiable 
but very often his effort to impress others became evident. 

One day Rhodes had found a big diamond. He invited a few 
friends to celebrate with him at a picnic on the Vaal River. After 
lunch they all took a dip in the cool river. When Rhodes walked 
along the edge of the water over the broad stretch of pebbles, he 
suddenly bent down, shouting excitedly: 

'Look here, what I just picked up ... a diamond, a first-rater, 
bluish-white one ... at least ten carat for which old Unger or 
any of his Hebrew brethren will gladly pay forty quid . . . exactly 
what this party cost me . . . exactly what this party cost me . . . 
Just luck, and, of course, one has to know where one's luck lies 
... to know where one's luck lies!' 

His friends were sure that Rhodes had dropped the diamond 
there earlier. 

Girls did not interest him. Frank, anxious to dispel any fears 
his parents might have had in that respect, assured them that it 
was 'quite a mistake to suppose that there are no nice girls out 
here'. They did not seem to exist, however, if they existed at all 
in Kimberley, for his brother Cecil. 

'I do not believe, if a flock of the most adorable women passed 
through the streets, he would go across the road to see them,' 
Frank wrote. 

Sometimes he could not evade going to dances. Much to the 
amusement of his friends he always chose the ugliest girls as 
partners. When he was chaffed about his bad taste, Rhodes, his 
hands defiantly in his pockets, answered: 

'Leave me alone! Dancing is to me just an enjoyable exercise, 
and I enjoy it as such . . . just an enjoyable exercise. . . .' 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

And there followed a shrill falsetto laugh. 

Young Cecil had no friends who inspired him spiritually. 
Dr Sutherland was the first to encourage him to read but great 
talkers are rarely ferocious readers. Rhodes already at that time 
found great satisfaction in talking, not in the form of give-and- 
take conversation but of almost exclusive monologues. Often 
after dinner with his friends* in his tent on Colesberg Kopje, 
after a long period of complete silence he would suddenly jump 
up and begin to talk. He argued with himself, bringing forth 
possible objections that the other side might raise, analysing them 
and setting them against his own views. In his 'home', a 1 6-foot 
by 1 8-foot structure, made of a flimsy wooden frame and covered 
with canvas, but considered luxurious by Kimberley standards at 
that time, he messed together with a number of other young men. 
There was no furniture in the tent, nor did it offer even the 
simplest comfort. Upon entering, the eye immediately fell on the 
big slightly crumpled map of the African continent which was 
pinned carefully against the canvas wall. Among the young men 
he was most attached to quiet, tall, and bearded Charles Dunell 
Rudd, nine years his senior, whom he had akeady met in Natal. 
They became partners in Kimberley, working a claim together, 
the beginning of a lifetime partnership. 

Rudd had come out to South Africa for the same reason as 
Cecil Rhodes did two years later. His tubercular lungs had cut 
short a promising scholarly career at Cambridge. Upon his 
arrival in South Africa he had attached himself , to the almost 
legendary English lawyer, John Dunn, whom the great Zulu 
King, Cetywayo, in gratitude for having acted as his counsellor, 
had made a Chief of a Zulu tribe with a present of 10,000 acres of 
the best land. Rudd acted for two years as a kind of secretary to 
the White Zulu Chief before he came to Kimberley. 

Rudd was the very opposite of Rhodes: his quiet, settled, 
sharply calculating and amiable nature became a necessary com- 
plement to Rhodes* impulsiveness. 

Rudd had little personal ambition. Intricate problems or a 
difficult situation interested him only as an opportunity for using 
his logical mind. Rhodes looked up to him as an ideal combination 
of a gentleman, a schokr and a smart business man. 

Perhaps still more than to the intellectual heavyweight Rudd, 
Rhodes was attracted to the light-hearted wit, universal though 



DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 

superficial worldly wisdom, general knowledge., easy manners 
and winning personality of John Xavier Merriman. They had so 
much in common in character, their ambitions ran so closely 
parallel and their faults were so similar that the course of their 
lives offered two possibilities: to become friends or foes. They 
tried both and neither made them happy. 

Towards the end of the year 1872, Rhodes had become more 
restless, more retiring and more abrupt than before. All his friends 
had noticed that something must be worrying him. Yet he really 
should have had no worries. His claims were yielding considerable 
results. His personal fortune was generally estimated at far above 
5,000 with ever-increasing revenues. 

Dr Sutherland, whom Cecil used as his father confessor, was 
most worried that his young friend had lately been complaining 
about bad health. He was still more alarmed by a passage in one 
of his letters: *. . . I am afraid that life on the Diamond fields has 
not tended to strengthen my religious principles.' 

Cecil Rhodes was saved from further mental anguish by a book. 

Just at that time Darwin had stirred the world of science with 
his theory of evolution. Intellectual mountebanks hooked some 
of his ideas, adulterated them and coined them into 'popular* 
currency. Among the many who used and over-simplified Darwin's 
observations as the basis for their philosophical and religious 
doctrines was the writer Winwood Reade. Drugged by the 
mysticism of Oriental cults he tried in Ms book ^he Martyrdom of 
Man to construct a creed of atheism, taking 'Darwinism* as a 
basis and making it more palatable with a garnish of pseudo- 
scientific phrases and a piquant sauce of mystic second-hand 
slogans from drained Mohammedanism, Confucianism and high- 
sounding confusing nonsense. 

For Rhodes, an innocent boy of twenty, this book solved all 
his doubts and scruples: Darwin became his Messiah, Reade his 
Apostle, and The Martyrdom of Man his Bible. It was not a passing 
phase of an intellectual evolution for him. More than twenty 
years later he confessed several times: 

... It is a creepy book. I read it the first year I was in Kimberley, 
fresh from my father's Parsonage, and you may imagine the impres- 
sion which it produced upon me, in such a place as a mining camp. 
That book has made me what I am. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

The hard work in a strenuous climate, the daily excitement 
caused by the vagaries of mining, the nerve-racking business 
negotiations, an irregular and insufficient diet, the unaccustomed 
consumption of alcoholic drinks, the late hours spent in endless 
discussions and in addition his spiritual anguish, lessened the 
resistance of a delicate body to the plodding microbes in his 
lungs. Cecil Rhodes fell seriously ill. 

Herbert at once returned from Natal He recognized immediately 
that all the boy needed was to get out as soon as possible from the 
dust-bowl of Kimberley. Rudd could look after the claims alone. 
The two brothers loaded an ox-wagon and started on a trek 
northwards. 

Following an old missionary road their way led them leisurely 
through drifts over narrow mountain passes, till they came higher 
and higher and reached the rarefied and stimulating air of the 
High Veld. 

This impact on Cecil Rhodes of South Africa's landscape with 
its wide open spaces and many contradictions, the free life on the 
veld with its mysterious fauna and flora, the excitement of pro viding 
the pot with food by the gun filled him for the rest of his life 
with a deep love of the veld. 

He had become a keen observer. As much as his curiosity was 
caught by the new and impressive scenery, so his interest was 
aroused in the farmers of the Transvaal, the fabulous Voortrekkers 
and their children, who in the years 1836 to 1840 had left the 
Cape dissatisfied with British rule. Cecil Rhodes liked their almost 
Biblical mode of life, and was amazed every time by the liberal 
hospitality which was gladly showered upon complete strangers. 
A new world opened up to him. These sturdy slow-moving men 
with their heavy vrow and numerous flaxen-haired children spoke 
the same language, old Dutch, as had their forefathers, who had 
come as settlers to the 'halfway house* of the Dutch East India 
Company .at the Cape, in the middle of the seventeenth century. 
As the language, their taa/ 9 had changed little in the last two 
hundred years, so there remained unchanged their strong Puritan 
conviction. Here were people, separated by several days' journey 
from their nearest neighbour, self-dependent, rulers over their 
thousands of acres, a law unto themselves, who were happy in 
their voluntary isolation though deprived of even the simplest 
amenities of life. Not only did these people read the Bible twice a 

[z6] 



DIAMOND-^! DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 

day but they accepted literally the teachings of Die Goeie 
particularly of the Old Testament, as the guide to their lives. 

Perhaps Cecil was still suffering from pangs of conscience about 
his newly adopted atheism that the natural religiosity of the 
Boers made so deep an impression on him. 

'Among these people, he thought, it must be good to live. 

Once he had finished with diamonds, it would be ideal to retire 
to this land, to be near Nature, to forget all about worldly things 
and to regain one's health. For a few hundred pounds one could 
buy fertile land enough to make any English squire envious. 
Cecil Rhodes "bought a farm of 3,000 acres. This ownership 
qualified him as a burner of the Transvaal Republic, a fact to 
which he was to refer twenty years later. 

The two brothers, trekking along the old 'Missionary Road*, 
first came to the land of the Bechuanas. Already on their way 
north they had- heard much talk about gold-prospecting in the 
Transvaal. When they came to the border of Bechuanaland the 
rumours about gold turned into fact. An English company had 
akeady begun mining in the Tati district beyond the Limpopo 
River. 

That there was gold in the land beyond the Limpopo Herbert 
and Cecil Rhodes did not doubt. They must have recalled the 
sensation caused by an article in The Times about discoveries of 
rich gold findings in the interior beyond the Limpopo. A German 
geologist, Karl Mauch, in 1868, had been sure that he had found 
the fabulous Gold of OpKir in the land of the bellicose Matabele 
between the lower Zambezi and the Limpopo. 

At about the same time two explorers had discovered in that 
very district mysterious ruins of ingeniously constructed brick- 
buildings and distinct traces of gold-mining activities, dating 
back probably to the Phoenicians. There could be no doubt that 
the Gold of Ophir came from these mysterious workings in the 
middle of darkest Africa. 

But the two Rhodes brothers were not prepared for an expedi- 
tion into the interior. They could go no further. 'Another timer 
Herbert said resignedly. 'Another time/ said Cecil with a sigh, 
as he bent over his crumpled map of Africa. He could not know 
that this land of the Gold of Ophir would be his and bear his 
name within twenty years. 

After seven months the brothers returned to Kimberley. Cecil's 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

health was completely restored* Herbert, too, was much affected 
by their long trek. He had made up his mind never to return to 
a humdrum life of routine. For Herbert Rhodes the mysterious 
antique gold workings in the north had become an obsession. 
Without much ado he one day packed his ox- wagon and was off, 
northward bound, after he had offered his claims to Cecil. Together 
with Rudd, his partner, Cecil thus became owner of three of the 
best claims in the Kimberley Mine. 

Cecil Rhodes was worried. By 1872, more than 1,600,000 
worth of diamonds had been found. In consequence prices were 
going down. Buyers nowadays dictated their own prices. They 
knew only too well that most of the diggers stood on such weak 
legs that they had to sell immediately to keep their claims working. 
All buyers wanted only flawless, well-shaped and the best-coloured 
stones. Expenses on the other hand had increased considerably. 
One had to pay higher wages to the Natives if one wanted good, 
strong and sober men. Everybody was convinced that these 
rascals stole at least half of the whole production. Supervision 
had become very difficult the deeper the mine went. There were 
now in Kimberley dozens of shady characters who bought stolen 
diamonds from the Natives, paying a mere trifle in the form of 
*Cape Smoke*, old guns, beads, uniforms, watches or mouth 
organs. 

The hauling-system in the mines had to be constantly replaced 
or improved. A falling reef, the biggest and an unpredictable 
calamity, could wither all one's hopes in the best mine overnight. 

All these difficulties had to be overcome before one could make 
diamond-digging a sound and permanent business proposition. 
Moreover, one could operate successfully only on a wide basis, 
unhampered by neighbouring workings. The future lay in 
combining as many connected claims as possible. For this reason 
Rhodes had entered into partnership with Rudd. Costs had to be 
reduced by bigger production. And he had to see to it that he 
found claims where not only was the production high but where 
the finest quality of stones were yielded. In these respects his 
claims in the Kimberley Mine did not satisfy him fully. He could 
not complain about the number of diamonds found there, but 
very seldom were the stones flawless and pure white, 

Rhodes cast his eyes on De Beers Mine, also originally owned 
by the 'Red Caps'. He had carefully, though unobtrusively, 

[28] 



DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! DIAMONDS! 

studied its production. There the diamonds were perhaps a little 
less in number but most of them were of great purity, big and of 
regular shape. 

He began to buy claims in De Beers Mine. * A nice little mine*, 
he called what was to become the world's richest diamond 
mine. 

In the short time of his activities on the diamond fields Rhodes 
had seen many a man fall from the height of prosperity down to 
complete poverty, merely by adverse conditions and through no 
fault of his own. Rhodes learnt from such examples. He did not 
want to stake his entire future on one card. The 3,ooo-acre farm 
he had bought in the Transvaal he considered as a nest-egg. But 
he also wanted to have a secure income. He became aware that in 
the terrific heat everyone was complaining about the lack of cool 
drinks. All clamoured for ice. 

Rhodes had seen an ice-machine advertised in a Durban news- 
paper. Together with Rudd he bought it. Unfortunately that year 
it happened to be an exceptionally cool summer and the demand 
for ice was minimal. The next summer-season, however, brought 
a large enough turnover to recover the entire costs and to make 
a profit of 1*500 each. 

Since the ice-business proved to be after all a gamble with the 
weather Rhodes gave it up, glad to have come out with a good 
profit. This money, he decided, he would not invest entirely on 
the diamond-fields. Some of it he would use for a secure invest- 
ment. He wanted something absolutely safe, and chose an old- 
established railway-line connecting Durban's harbour with the 
town. 

It was Rhodes* first deal in shares and it was symptomatic that 
he used his first free small capital to buy railway shares, since 
his later big financial schemes were mostly based on his belief 
in railways as a safe and lucrative investment. 

Through his acquisition of several prominent claims in De 
Beers, people in Kimberley began to consider him as a potential 
factor on the diamond-market. 

When his old friends, whose luck had limped far behind his 
own, joked about his preoccupation of late with big financial 
schemes, the amounts of which made them dizzy, he burst out 
angrily: 

*I dare say you think I am keen about money. I assure you I 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

wouldn't care a damn, if I lost all I have tomorrow. It's the game 
I like . . . it's the game I like . . . the game I like!' 

He had attained his aim: he now possessed the necessary funds 
to go to Oxford fully independent. He had passed successfully 
through the 'University of Life' at Kimberley. Now he was ready 
for another University: to become an English gentleman. 

Towards the middle of 1873 Rhodes embarked for England. 
In his waistcoat-pocket he carried loosely a few diamonds. 
Nobody on board would have believed that this tall, red-faced, 
slim young man was the owner of several rich diamond claims 
whose fortune was known to be not far from .10,000. His worn- 
out clothes, stained and threadbare, did not give any indication 
of such wealth. His only pair of trousers the sail-maker of the ship 
had to patch up with a piece of canvas. 

In October of the same year Rhodes passed the entrance 
examination of Oxford University. 

His mother was still able to enjoy the return of her fourth son 
and his success in the examination. Shortly afterwards, tired, 
quiet and long-suffering Louisa Rhodes, a devout wife, a good 
mother and a patient woman, closed her eyes forever. 



[30] 



CHAPTER III 

'THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE 9 



REAT was the influence of Oxford over Cecil Rhodes. He 
\J first spent a year there, until 1874, when ill-health made 
his return to Kimberley necessary. Difficulties on the diamond 
market, changes in mining conditions, but especially the kck of 
sufficient funds prevented him from continuing his studies until 
1876. Then for two years he kept all terms at Oxford though he 
spent the long vacation in Kimberley. 

Rhodes, encouraged by his father, tried to enter University 
College, famed for its high standard of scholarship. But in spite 
of his intense cramming at Kimberley his Latin prose was not 
considered good enough. He had better luck at Oriel College 
where he was admitted as a 'passman'. 

Rhodes entered Oxford with the intention of preparing himself 
for a profession. His father had not yet given up hope that he 
would enter the Church. During his first term at Oxford Cecil 
wrote a letter to his friend Dr Sutherland in a style on which no 
beneficial academic influence is as yet noticeable: 

Whether I become the village parson which you sometimes 
imagined me as, remains to be proved. I am afraid my constitution 
received rather too much of what they call the lust of the flesh at 
the Diamond Fields to render that result possible. * . . 

His brother Frank had returned to England with Cecil to enter 
a crack cavalry regiment as lieutenant. Another brother had also 
entered the Army, as an officer in the Engineers. *. . . Whether 
I shall follow their example remains to be proved/ 

When conditions in Kimberley had changed and Rhodes had 
to fight an uphill battle to retain the position which he had gained 
on the diamond-fields, he wanted to secure his future. 

He had tasted of the sweet drug of making money. He had 
imagined himself on the safe way to wealth, independence and 
security. Now, away from Kimberley, he feared all the more the 
possibility of gliding back into anonymous impecuniosity. This 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

fear of poverty became a nightmare. It impeded his clear thinking. 
It influenced his decisions. To such proportions did it grow that 
he confessed to Rudd in a letter in 1876: 

. . . On a calm review of the preceding year I find that 3,000 
had been lost, because owing to my having no profession I lacked 
pluck on three occasions, through fearing that one might lose; and 
I had nothing to fall back on in the shape of a profession. ... I am 
slightly too cautious now. . . . By all means try and spare me for two 
years; you will find I shall be twice as good a speculator with a 
profession at my back. . . 

He was now resolved to become a barrister. Soon, however, 
he was forced to realize that it was very difficult, if not impossible, 
to combine studies at a university with conducting financial and 
mining affairs from a distance of 7,000 miles, especially at a time 
of economic world-crisis and a slump on the diamond market. 

Rudd, quiet, ever-unperturbed Rudd, seemed to have been 
infected with the jitters just like everybody else in Kimberley. . . . 
One had to buck him up with strong regular doses of one's own 
optimism in the guise of conviction that diamonds are bound 
to rally. . . . One knows for certain that improved methods for 
finding diamonds will defeat every fall in diamonds within the 
next two years. . . . One has to warn panicking Rudd not to 
sacrifice claims because of bad times. . . . And one has to stress 
in every letter that he should accumulate c the ready* . . . and that 
now when everybody is willing to sell at any price, is the time to 
acquire some new claims as bargains. . . . 

One does everything in one's power to help poor Rudd. . . . 
Not nice for one to wake up at night sweating like a pig fancying 
oneself meeting various little bits of paper, called promissory 
notes, with one's blessed signature at the bottom* . . . Less 
pleasant in bright daylight to find otieself with not a blinking 
sixpence in one's pocket. . . . Impossible to bother one's father 
going a-begging. . . . Very unpleasant being under an obligation 
to anyone. . . . One had to swallow one's pride and touch old 
Rudd's brother for a few quid. . . . Why are people in England 
so blastedly suspicious? . . The blighters even charge four per 
cent for drafts. . . . 

One should really have two heads since only one on one's 
neck is not enough if one has to study Aristotle's Ethics, read 



'THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE* 

Gibbon's Decline and Fa/I, learn the Thirty-nine Articles and at 
the same time escape to London and try to persuade oily Levantines 
in Hatton Garden, where these bastards hold their exchange on 
the street or in filthy little tea-rooms try to persuade them to 
buy a parcel of stones at a decent price. . . . Or one has to waste 
hours when ordering machinery to explain to idiotic 'experts' 
about special winding-drums, clutch-gears, pump spare-parts, 
engine-valves, steel-cables all mining requisites. . . . And one 
has to fight them tooth and nail when they cut you short with 
their perpetual Impossible 9 ! . . . One was also once told one 
couldn't grow cotton in Natal! . . . And one has to have both 
eyes wide open, not only so that one doesn't fall asleep over 
Marcus Aurelius' Meditations^ but also to keep on the look-out 
for making a few quid on the side. . . . 

One has to struggle through somehow. . . . One's character 
was so battered about at the diamond-fields that one likes to 
preserve the few remnants. . . . One has to work. . . . Had one 
not as a little boy picked as one's motto: *To do or to die'? . . 

Cecil Rhodes had 'sent himself up to Oxford', as he liked to 
put it, not only for the purpose of studying. His training to 
become an 'English Gentleman' he must have considered of 
equal importance. His boyish shyness had not left him and had 
with the advancing years turned him into a gauche, inhibited, 
and complex personality. A physical defect, small as it was, caused 
Mm constant embarrassment. The little finger of his right hand 
was bent at the middle knuckle and could not be straightened. 
*He always hid it and later became very nervous if he noticed 
someone looking at his hands. He always kept the third and little 
finger doubled up when shaking hands. 

A parallel is brought to mind in the withered left arm of another 
man, an emperor and a contemporary of Rhodes, whose crippled 
limb was largely responsible for the course of history between 
the years 1888 and 1918. 

Rhodes probably also suffered under his delicate and youthful 
appearance which gave the impression of a rather effeminate 
schoolboy. It led to a defensive aggressiveness, the forceful adop- 
tion of rough manners and coarse language by which he wanted 
to show the tough Kimberley diggers that he was their fcqual. 

His successes on the diamond-fields had made him a young 
man of means and an important though still small power on the 

[33] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

diamond market. This prominence, however, was restricted to 
his capacity as a business-man. His private intercourse brought 
him into contact with the English nobility even if their coat 
of arms were slightly smudged with Oxford and Cambridge 
men, with former Public School boys and ex-army officers with 
all those who belonged by birth, education or profession to the 
category of 'Gentlemen'. Though they mixed with everyone in 
Kimberley in the course of business and did not mind an occasional 
drinking bout with 'those fellows' for the sake of a lucrative 
transaction, they kept strictly to themselves. Rhodes was admitted 
to their circle, since his three brothers in the Army raised him 
almost to their caste. But he was well aware that he was only 
tolerated and he was intelligent enough to realize his social 
limitations and what a handicap his lack of polish was likely to 
be in the future. 

When he came to Oxford he encountered that same phalanx 
of Gentlemen against which he had run up in Kimberley. After 
a short trial he gave up living in his College: 'Nasty, abominable, 
beastly food pig-swill*, he called the dinners served in its Hall. 
He thus preferred, also because it gave greater liberty, to take 
private lodgings, a small suite of rooms in the High. 

There he met a number of other young men who became his 
companions for the next few years. Among them figured two 
lords, some younger sons of titled families and scions of the 
English gentry. These Oxford friends, with a few exceptions, did 
not strive for academic distinction. They were more interested 
in good living, congenial company and having their fun. Yet of 
this small crowd of young bon-vivants one became a judge, 
another an eminent historian and two, R. Rochfort Maguire, later 
a prominent scholar, and Charles Metcalfe, a man of many talents, 
became intimate collaborators of Rhodes. 

Rhodes, having grown up unguided, unrestricted and unspoilt 
during the most important stage of a boy's development, had 
remained at heart an enthusiastic schoolboy. His new friends, 
brought up in the traditional way prescribed for young gentlemen, 
much younger in years than Rhodes, believed that their new 
dignity as Oxford undergraduates called for concealment of their 
discomfort amid the new surroundings. They aped their elders 
by putting on airs of sophistication. 

This affected smugness Rhodes took as a barrier behind which 

[34] 



'THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE* 

the 'Gentlemen* had entrenched themselves against outsiders and 
he felt that it was up to his social abilities to ride It down and be 
accepted as an equal. 

He first tried to impress them by tales of his adventures on the 
veld. They scarcely listened. If he had told them that he had scored 
a century at Lords, ridden the winner at Liverpool lost a fortune 
at baccara at Brooks's, had supper with a 'Gaiety' chorus girl or 
at least climbed the Grand Tour over all the college roofs, they 
would have been interested. Only Charles Metcalfe roused him- 
self from his lethargy; he opened his eyes, relit the cigar hanging 
from the corner of his mouth. He listened attentively. 

Later Rhodes remarked to another friend: 'Do you know, one 
really can think Metcalfe honestly believed those stories were trueF 

Rhodes tried other methods by which to impress his new 
friends. He boasted about his great business prospects and 
occasionally threw on the table several diamonds which he carried 
loose in his waistcoat pocket. 'Vulgarl' was the general opinion 
and an icy silence the response. 

Money could not impress these young English gentlemen. One 
had either money, or at least credit, but one did not speak about 
such matters. Money did not affect one's status as a gentleman. 

Rhodes now went over to displaying the cynicism of a rough 
and tough adventurer who enjoyed himself by shocking his 
audience with his views on life, his low esteem of mankind, his 
irreligious thoughts, all expressed in the coarsest language. 

His friends were just bored. He began to work rather heavily 
on their nerves with his continual efforts to entangle them in 
arguments on political, historical or philosophical questions which 
had just crossed his mind or an idea which he had come across 
while reading. He would nettle them by storming into their 
common sitting-room where they were just discussing the 
prospects for the next day's races at Ascot and spluttering 
excitedly, fall into a falsetto: 

'I have found in Aristotle the meaning of life virtue. He says 
virtue is the highest activity of the soul living for the highest 
object in a perfect life. Now, you fellows, who among you could 
deny. . . ,* 

And he would go on and on, labouring hard to clarify his own 
thoughts while speaking, searching for the explanation, the 
solution, the answer to the problem by which Ms hard but 

[353 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

slow-working brain was haunted. These monologues became 
Rhodes' habitual way of working out decisions. But his friends 
were neither willing to discuss, nor interested in listening to any 
such questions. 

They could not know that an upheaval had taken place in the 
mind of this twenty-three-year-old man which for the last six 
years had been filled with the realistic facts of money-making in 
its crudest form and was now, badly prepared, suddenly con- 
fronted with the highest cultural goods of humanity. 

Rhodes had to confess that the making of a gentleman needed 
the same patience and regular training as that of being a student. 
He found that there existed several clubs and societies in Oxford, 
through the membership of which one could acquire all those 
social qualities which he lacked. He joined the Bullingdon Club 
to which belonged the smart set of undergraduates. There one 
saw to the correctness in manners, dress and thought but also, 
at regular banquets, to the enjoyment of excellent food, the best 
wines and everything else that was expensive. He also became 
a member of the Vincent Club and was shortly afterwards 
admitted as a Freemason to the University Lodge. 

It is usual to celebrate the initiation of a new Mason by a 
banquet. Was it the wine or the deep impression which the 
romantic symbolism of the *Royal Art* made on him, that he 
nonchalantly disclosed the secrets of Masonry when not more 
than an hour before he had sworn a solemn oath never to reveal 
them? The Brethren were flabbergasted. The chairman intervened 
and reprimanded him severely. 

Strolling along the High, or walking through the college parks, 
certainly in the dining-room of the Mitre Hotel, Rhodes must 
have often come across another undergraduate, a massive-looking 
six-footer, immaculately dressed according to the latest fashion. 
Everyone at Oxford knew him, at least by reputation, as the 
brilliant Irishman, Oscar Wilde. Cecil Rhodes would have met 
him several times at banquets of the Bullingdon Club but there 
is no record of any direct personal contact between the two. It 
may be assumed that Rhodes would not have been very interested 
in a young, healthy man who wrote poetry. At one time, at least, 
he expressed his opinion of such an occupation when a friend 
told him that he aspired to become a writer. 

'Shouldn't do that. It is not a man's work mere loafing.' 

[36] 



*THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE' 

As different as were Rhodes and Wilde in every respect, they 
concurred for a short time in their great veneration of one man: 
John Ruskin. Together with hundreds of other students they 
crowded the Sheldonian Theatre, the biggest hall of the University, 
to listen to this strange middle-aged man with the piercing large 
blue eyes delivering his fanatical sermons on the beauty of 
Italian Art. 

In the fortieth year of his life, at the same time as a bearded 
German refugee was sitting in the Reading Room of the British 
Museum working on his book Das Kapital> Ruskin, the hot- 
house-reared genius, discovered the existence of poverty, dirt and 
misery among England's underprivileged class. He detected the 
evils brought about by mechanization and found the cause of 
the rottenness of modern society in the existing economic system, 

In the afternoons, when the students hurried from their colleges 
through the High to the playing-fields, they were stopped by 
Ruskin, who lectured to them how wrong it was that England's 
elite should waste its energy as gladiators. They should learn to 
honour the sanctity of manual work. They should with their 
own hands contribute to improving the miserable conditions of 
this world. There was a road badly needed through the swamps 
near the village of Hinksey. 

Out went the Professor, in cap and gown, with his disciples. 
He gave them picks and shovels, wheelbarrows and heavy rollers. 
They broke stones, waded through mud, carried heavy rocks. 
Ruskin did not spare himself in setting an example. It did not 
matter to him that the road turned out rather crooked, and was 
not level except on a stnall stretch done by his gardener. Neither 
did it worry him that the work was abruptly given up after two 
months with only a few hundred yards completed. He left for 
Venice; it was the end of the experiment. A cynic like Oscar 
Wilde had, of course, never believed in it, but Cecil Rhodes, 
though unable through his illness to take part in the ethical 
carnival, listened to the 'Gospel of Labour* with great interest. 
Here was a man who had pronounced something which had 
occupied his own mind since his boyhood; { To do or to die/ 
The slogan struck a chord within him which was soon to grow 
into loud fanfares. 

The man who had started as the standard-bearer of refined 
aestheticism and later became the prophet of a Utopian socialism 

[37] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

also supplied the philosophic jumping-board from which Cecil 
Rhodes was to plunge into the African continent to paint its map 
ted with the red colour of Britain and the blood of thousands. 

John Ruskin in his inaugural address to the students of Oxford 
proclaimed the gospel of British Imperialism: 

There is a destiny now possible for us, the highest ever set before 
a nation to be accepted or refused. We are still undegenerate in race; 
a race mingled of the best northern blood. We are not yet dissolute 
in temper, but have still the firmness to govern and the grace to 
obey. . . . Will you youths of England make your country again a 
royal throne of kings; a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of 
light, a centre of peace; mistress of learning and of the Arts, faithful 
guardian of time-tried principles, under temptation from fond 
experiments and licentious desires; and amidst the cruel and clamorous 
jealousies of the nations; worshipped in her strange valour, of good- 
will towards men? . . . This is what England must either do, or 
perish; she must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able, 
formed of her most energetic and worthiest men; seizing every piece 
of fruitful waste ground she can set her foot on, and there teaching 
these her colonists that their chief "virtue is to be fidelity to their 
country, and that their first aim is to be to advance the power of 
England by land and sea: and that, though they live on a distant 
plot of ground, they are no more to consider themselves therefore 
disfranchised from their native land than the sailors of her fleet do, 
because they float on distant seas. ... If we can get men, for little 
pay, to cast themselves against cannon-mouths for love of England, 
we may find men also who will plough and sow for her, who will 
behave kindly and righteously for her, who will bring up their 
children to love her, and who will gladden themselves in the bright- 
ness of her glory, more than in all the light of tropical skies. . . . You 
think that an impossible ideal? Be it so; refuse to accept it, if you will; 
but see that you form your own in its stead. All that I ask of you is 
to have a fixed purpose of some kind for your country and for 
yourselves, no matter how restricted, so that it be fixed and unselfish. 

It was the language of imperialism to intoxicate the youth with 
the idea of belonging to a master-race destined to save the world. 

In Rhodes this language fell on fertile ground. He had been 
waiting for just such a lead. Here was his gospel. He was resolved 
to become its( apostle and like Paul to go into foreign lands and 
preach it to the heathen. 

[38] 



THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE 7 

He did not stand alone in his feverish dreams. The first wave 
of Jingoism was soon to break over the British Isles* Drunk with 
patriotism, cold-blooded, ever peace-loving, placid Englishmen 
roared with hoarse voices in 1 878, demanding British intervention 
in the Russo-Turkish War: 

We don't want to fight; but, by Jingo, if we do, 

We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too. 

It was all the work of that most un-English of British statesmen, 
Disraeli, first Earl of Beaconsfield, leader of England's Tories, 
Her Britannic Majesty 's Prime Minister and intimate friend and 
counsellor. 

This dandified statesman had awakened the British lion so that 
its fierce roar echoed over all Europe and penetrated even into 
the wilds of Africa from the Suez Canal which he brought under- 
British control at a bargain price to Zululand and the Transvaal. 

Cecil Rhodes followed all political developments closely. 
Much depended, he felt, on a quick recovery of the world from 
its prevalent economic depression. A luxury industry, such as 
diamonds, had been particularly affected. Rhodes regularly sent to 
Rudd in Kimberley detailed information about the political 
situation. In Lord Beaconsfield's Government he had great 
confidence though the pace of the British lion seemed to him still 
too slow. 

As was his wont when an idea revolved in his mind, he had 
to talk about it. For several weeks his friends had to listen to 
Rhodes' monologues on British politics, what Lord Beaconsfield 
should have done, what he did do, and what he had omitted to 
do. *Why don't you write and tell him?* one of his bored friends 
teased him. 

'That's just what I am going to do/ 

So Rhodes sat down in all seriousness and together with five 
friends, who treated the matter rather as a joke, wrote a letter to 
the Right Honourable Gentleman, Her Majesty's Prime Minister, 
full of wise advice on how to run the British Empire. 

Lord Beaconsfield forestalled even Rhodes' boldest dreams and 
hopes: he knew that the British lion had to do more than roar 
to gain the world's respect. Down came the lion's claws in South 
Africa. 

Lately gold had been found in several places in the Transvaal. 

[39] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Already In The Times of 19 January 1874 a long letter from one 
David Leslie was published, in which he wrote that in the 
'Transvaal, a petty Dutch Boer State established upon Native 
territory", gold had been discovered. On the same page Messrs. 
Mercer & Co., Merchants of Leadenhall Street in the City of 
London, 'begged to announce to their business-friends the 
arrival of a nugget of pure gold, weighing 18 ounces', which had 
been found at Lydenburg, in the Transvaal Republic. 

The British Government bore these facts in mind during the 
years that followed. According to a report from Cape Town there 
was *no reason to doubt that, if England declined to interfere, 
Germany would be induced to undertake the protection of the 
Transvaal, which would have added infinitely to our troubles in 
Africa'. 

Britain thus simply annexed the Transvaal. Lord Beaconsfield, 
with his combined sense of the cunning statesman, the theatrical 
romantic and the flattering courtier, presented the Transvaal to 
his 'Faerie Queene' as a birthday present in 1877. 

He was proud of the fact that the occupation of this country, in 
size twice as big as Britain, was made without great cost to the 
British tax-payer, by a detachment of twenty-five mounted police. 
Yet he was wise enough to conceal the strange means employed. He 
had been prompted into action by the false reports of his subordi- 
nates that the Transvaal was threatened to be overrun by Natives 
and that the Boers themselves wanted to come under the rule of 
Queen Victoria, It was true that the Boers in the Transvaal were 
at war with a Native tribe. This was nothing extraordinary to 
these frontiersmen. But their country, because of the great war 
expenses, and the small and slow incoming taxes, through internal 
political intrigues and long droughts, was labouring under in- 
surmountable difficulties and was actually facing bankruptcy. 
The British Government, under the pretence of neighbourly friend- 
ship and for reasons of general security in South Africa against 
tribal aggressors, sent a Commissioner to Pretoria with a small 
contingent of mounted police. The Boers believed that the British 
wanted to help them overcome their difficulties. Through bribes 
and corruption within the highest quarters the British delegate 
met no resistance when he hoisted the Union Jack in Pretoria's 
Government Building on the Queen's birthday, 24 May 1877. 

Lord Beaconsfield, in such matters, relied on the experts of the 

[40] 



*THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE* 

Colonial Office. They had supplied him with the reports from the 
British Governor of the Cape Colony, urging the necessity of 
bringing the Transvaal under British sovereignty. The British 
officials in Cape Town had not forgotten that forty years before, 
the Boers of the Transvaal had preferred to go on the Great Trek 
to an uncertain destiny to staying in the Cape under the secure and 
civilized conditions of British rule. 

Misunderstanding totally the motives of these gallant men, the 
short-sighted red-taped Colonial bureaucrats believed that the 
abolition of slavery had been the main reason for their exodus. In 
their political narrow-mindedness, with their proverbial lack of 
psychological understanding and their traditional incompetence 
in dealing with non-English-speaking peoples, the Cape officials 
searched only for materialistic reasons. They could not or would 
not realize that there had been other, imponderable reasons, an 
inborn urge for individual freedom born out of their strict 
Calvinistic religiosity, an almost feudal system of political in- 
dependence which clashed with English Liberalism, with British 
power-politics and with English contempt for everything non- 
British, Not all Englishmen accepted in silence the rape of the 
Transvaal. Gladstone, the Grand Old Man of England, had already 
given warning to keep our hands off South Africa, 'the one great 
unsolved and perhaps insoluble problem of our colonial system', 
where nothing but confusion and embarrassment could be 
expected. The old man's conscience was aroused by England's 
blundering crime of the annexation of the Transvaal *by means 
dishonourable to the character of our country*. 

In Parliament there rose the tall figure of Birmingham's popular 
Mayor, Mr Joseph Chamberlain, a new-comer to the 'gentleman's 
debating club' of Westminster. A slight quivering of his longish 
straight nose betrayed his indignation though otherwise his 
ascetic pale face gave the impression of perfect calm. He screwed 
his monocle into his right eye, stretched himself to the full height 
of his six feet and without raising his voice told the Government 
that he considered the annexation of the Transvaal *an act df 
force, fraud and folly . * . the consequence of false information 
supplied to the British Government'. 

The English public generally was not much interested in the 
new acquisition to their Empire, of stretches of useless land some- 
where in Africa, thousands of miles away from home, inhabited 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

mostly by black savages and a handful of half-civilized strange 
white 'foreigners'. But the well-fed city merchants, the worrying 
owners of cotton-mills in the Midlands, the'steel-manufacturers and 
exporters, the ship-owners and coal-mine magnates, saw in the 
news from Africa a bright ray of hope penetrating the darkness of 
the business depression which had started in 1 873 and seemed now 
in its sixth year to have reached its climax. They had had to watch 
with folded hands, powerless to stop it, how British capital was 
leaving the country to help build up new industries in Europe and 
railway constructions in North America. With envy they saw how 
the United States had quickly recovered from the Civil War and 
with deep alarm they noticed there the increasing competition 
growing up in the cotton trade. England's wealth which had 
always provided the world with manufactured goods was menaced 
by the industrialization of Europe which could now not only 
satisfy her own requirements but supply export markets, a former 
British monopoly. Germany particularly had lately invaded the 
export field as a serious rival to England. She delivered the goods 
at lower prices and supplied them as the customer required them. 
German industry and trade was challenging England's monopo- 
listic world position. 

Now Africa would provide new and big markets. With this 
hope the patriotism of England's industrialists rose to fever pitch. 
Imperialism always paid high dividends, as they knew. And 
presently the English masses, ignorant and innocent, began to 
wave the Union Jack with equal fanaticism. The British Lion had 
recovered at least in Africa. 

Thus the eyes of the British were now focused on Africa. With 
great interest the news was received that the land of the diamonds, 
Chief Waterboer's country Griqualand, which had been claimed 
by both the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, had now also 
become British territory by its official annexation to the Cape 
Colony. Only a very few, however, realized at the time the real 
importance of the acquisition of this territory, which opened for 
Great Britain the way to the interior of Africa. 

This corridor into the heart of Africa rose in value when the 
result of Stanley's journey through the Dark Continent became 
known. The imagination of even the most placid Englishman was 
fanned into a state of excitement, when for two years he read in 
the Daily Telegraph Stanley's hair-raising letters about his exploits. 

[42] 



'THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE' 

Stanley's dispatches were swallowed with perhaps even greater 
interest than they aroused in the English readers of the Daily 
Telegraph by the statesmen in most European capitals* In Berlin's 
Wilhelmstrasse Prince Bismarck bent his 230 ib. over the map of 
Africa. On the Quai d'Orsay in Paris General MacMahon pointed 
excitedly to places on an African map lying in front of him on a 
flimsy gilt Louis XV chair. In the palace of Laeken King Leopold 
of the Belgians stroked his silky greying beard, looked at the map 
of Africa and told his aides-de-camp: 'Privately I can assure you of 
my conviction that nations which renounce ambition are nations 
without a future. A people which is content with its homeland, 
and which dreads even the shadow of a conflict, lacks the charac- 
teristics of a superior race/ 

In Lisbon, in Madrid, in Vienna, in Stamboul, diplomats 
conferred for hours with statesmen, and statesmen with monarchs. 
The scramble for Africa had begun! 

Only in London's Whitehall all was quiet. It required more 
than what they called the uncontrolled scribbling^ of a penny-a- 
liner, to bring into motion an English Civil Servant or to fire the 
imagination of the honourable members in the Gothic building at 
Westminster. One man alone in Parliament had shown foresight: 
for Gladstone every political question became an academic problem 
which released from him beautiful though lengthy oratory in the 
best classical style. 

His unbending ideal of Liberalism caused him to oppose 
colonial imperialism. But in the results of Stanley's African 
explorations he foresaw the opening of the African interior and 
he perceived possibilities already in 1877 to which Bismarck later 
always referred as 'the Gladstone Prophecy': 

Our first site in Egypt, be it by krceny or be it by emption, will 
be the most certain egg of a North African Empire that will grow 
and grow . . . till we finally join hands across the equator with Natal 
and the Cape Colony, to say nothing of the Transvaal and the 
Orange River on the South, or of Abyssinia and Zanzibar to be 
swallowed by way of viaticum on our journey. 

It was left finally to a scientist, Sir Rutherford Alcock, President 
of the Royal Geographical Society, to formulate the romantic 
ideas of the dreamers, the vague propaganda platitudes of the 

[43] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

politicians and the dry matter-of-fact official reports into firmly 
described and realistic demands: 

Whether giant strides made in the last few years by geographical 
discoveries . . . (are) to be followed by equally vast and rapid changes 
in the conditions of Central Africa and the whole continent from 
Egypt to the Cape depends * . . upon the means which individuals 
and governments may bring to bear. It is mainly a question of 
money and employment of capital. ... I can only express the hope 
that Great Britain, so long in the foremost rank, will not be the last 
on the muster roll of those countries which are destined to bring 
the African race, the inexhaustible wealth of their fertile soil, their 
mineral products and free labour, within the circle of modern 
civilization. . . * 

Making practicable roads is undoubtedly the first and indispensable 
condition of all progress in Africa. The bullock wagon and steam- 
boat will do the rest until the time comes, and it cannot be far distant, 
for the rail and telegraph to complete the work. 

Another scientist. Sir Edwin Arnold, who was also a poet, took 
the ideas of Gladstone and Alcock and saw the future possibilities 
of Britain on African soil as an uninterrupted line of British 
possessions from the North to the South, expressed in the catching 
phrase 'From Cape to Cairo!' 

Cecil Rhodes, deeply immersed in his studies at Oxford in the 
summer of 1878, in preparation for the examinations terminating 
his second year, was frequently observed to sit absent-mindedly 
at his book-covered table, his mouth slightly open and dreamily 
stroking his chin with his right forefinger. He had recently turned 
quiet and silent and kept much to himself. 

Often he could be seen standing in his room in front of a 
crumpled map of Africa, the Daily Telegraph with Stanley's 
articles in his hand, and staring for hours at the vast mostly 
unmapped stretches of that mysterious continent, 

He became still more taciturn. 

When he left Oxford for Kimberley in the autumn of 1 878 there 
whirled in his mind the impressions gained during these two 
Oxford years: Aristotle's Ethics had attracted him; from Marcus 
Aurelius the philosophizing Emperor's Meditations he believed 
to have been imbued with the foundations of a practical philosophy; 
Gibbon's great work on the decay of the Roman Empire had 

[44] 



THE HIGHEST OBJECT IN A PERFECT LIFE' 

taught him the frailty of political power; Plutarch's portraits 
filled him with enthusiasm for *men of action'; he worshipped 
with Carlyle all the heroes of this historian; he had read Loyola's 
writings with growing interest and regarded the Jesuits as an 
admirable organization. 

He had not been attracted by any novels. Dickens* works were 
recommended to him as necessary for his education. He energeti- 
cally shook his head: No one is not interested in the class of 
people Dickens wrote about not interested not interested/ 

More than anything that he had studied, there worked on his 
mind the heroic deeds of Stanley in Africa, Beaconsfield's suave 
oratory on the destiny of the British Empire and above all his 
master-stroke in seizing the Transvaal. 

But overruling all his thoughts there hammered in his crowded 
brain day and night the words of Gladstone: 

. . . finally join hands across the equator with Natal and the Cape 
Colony. 

The c Cape to Cairo* idea had captivated him. 



[45] 



CHAPTER IV 

GOD'S CHOSEN PAINTER 

WITH quick nervous steps he paced the room, The red dust 
which had filtered through a chink in the door, through 
cracks in the wooden walls or through the ill-fitting corrugated- 
iron roof of the spacious though simple four-roomed wooden 
house, grated under his heavy boots. Now and then he would 
rush to the small window. 

'If only the pumps are still working!' It sounded like a sigh. 
Or a prayer. 

A tremble shook the whole structure of the house. 

"Reefs falling in again. ... If only not at De Beers.' 

He sat down at the table, his right forefinger caressing his 
chin. Wild thoughts^ incoherent thoughts, flashed through his 
mind. 

Would these ghosts appear again and frighten the marrow 
out of one's bones? One had seen these ghosts! Why else should 
one barricade the doors and windows with all the furniture in 
the room? 

That friends, as they said later, had found one's body on the 
floor in what they liked to call a dead faint nervous exhaustion 
due to excitement did not mean a thing. They should not have 
called a doctor. What did these doctors these quacks, know? 
What nonsense to babble about a leaking heart it was a serious 
coronary attack. These doctors are ridiculous . . . are ridiculous 
with their quick diagnosis it's no more than guesswork. The 
old London doctor who had sent one to Africa was of the same 
type. When one wanted to visit him again last year he was already 
under the ground. Too funny when his successor showed one an 
entry in the old man's journal of 1869; 'Has only six months to 
live'! . . . Too funny ... six months to live and one still lives in 
the year of grace 1878 ... twenty-five years old. . . . 

His heart ailment was believed to be the consequence of a 
complicated case of influenza to which Rhodes had fallen victim 
during his first term in Oxford in 1873. 



GOD S CHOSEN PAINTER 

From the time of this first attack the influences of a defective 
cardiac system showed themselves in Rhodes* behaviour, thoughts 
and actions. The irregular blood-circulation affected his entire 
nervous system: a pressure in the chest caused a subconscious 
feeling of anxiety leading to a permanent restlessness of mind and 
body. 

Rhodes felt or knew now that the span of his life was limited. 
He would have to hurry if he wanted to see his plans realized. 
He had to take short-cuts and apply pressure on himself and on 
his collaborators. Death was waiting and knocked daily at the 
door. 

In his haste he did not ask if the means applied to any of his 
projects, financial, industrial, political or personal, corresponded 
with the generally accepted moral code. 

Mining had lately become more complicated. Some mines were 
already so full of water that work had to stop. Rhodes was 
thus looking out for an insurance against the coming slump to 
compensate for possible losses. It would have to be something 
completely independent of the fluctuations on the diamond 
market; something which yielded a regular steady income in 
ready cash; something without risks, something solid; something 
that everybody needed and that nobody else possessed. If he 
could find a steam-engine and a pump he would become the 
most blessed and highly paid man in Kimbedey. 

Rhodes had many a sleepless night thinking of how to get 
hold of a steam-engine. One day he heard a chance remark in a 
bar* Someone on a distant farm had begun to use one of those 
new threshing machines worked by a steam-engine. Rhodes did 
not ask any questions. Within a few hours he was on his way, 
his pockets well stuffed with sovereigns and banknotes. He did 
not even know where exactly to find the farm. Before he left 
Kimberley he entered into a contract with the boards of the big 
mines to take over the pumping-out of the water, and since he 
was without competition he succeeded in obtaining a high price. 

The owner of the farm, a Mr Devenish, was surprised when 
a young man jumped out of a wagon drawn by eight sweating 
mules and, holding a bag of sovereigns and banknotes under his 
nose, shouted in an excited falsetto voice: 

*I want to buy your steam-engine ... I must have your engine. 
. . . Name me your priceP 

[47] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

*I don't want to sell this engine, I am sure. Just bought her 
and jolly glad I did/ 

Til pay you any price. IVe got the cash here.' 
'Don't waste your time^ young man. This engine is not for 
sale/ 

Out of the farm-house there came Mrs Devenish. According 
to the custom of the country she offered the hospitality of the 
house to the stranger. 

*I warn you, Mrs Devenish, I won't leave this place without 
the enginel* 

Rhodes stayed as a guest for several days without succeeding 
in making the farmer even discuss the engine. Only once the 
farmer replied curtly: 

*I haven't altered my mind today nor will I tomorrow or next 
week or any time at all. Put that into your pipe and smoke it, 
young manP 

Rhodes changed his tactics. Instead of following the farmer 
daily to the fields, he stayed with Mrs Devenish. He told her 
about the Vicarage, about his mother, his sisters and brothers and 
his sickness. Within a few days he noticed that Mr Devenish was 
becoming more amiable. For a few days Rhodes had stopped 
mentioning the engine altogether. 

After dinner one day Rhodes again put the question. 
Mrs Devenish took Rhodes* side fervently. Her husband was 
silent for a long time. Just as his wife started on a new argument, 
he stood up, and holding his ears in despair he exploded: 

'The pair of you drive me mad. Take the blessed plant and 
disappear with it as quick as you can. But you'll have to pay a 
jolly stiff price, that much I can tell you/ 

Rhodes did not bargain. He paid the price asked and immedi- 
ately set out for Kimberley. 

The rain had turned the road into streams of quagmire. The 
mules, accustomed to light and quick work, could not pull the 
heavy wagon through the mud. Rhodes needed a span of oxen. 
There was a farm nearby. The farmer declined to lend his oxen, 
Rhodes, afraid that he would again lose many precious days in 
negotiations with an obstinate farmer, bought the oxen at a 
fabulous price. 

In the meanwhile the mining boards were becoming impatient: 
neither Rhodes nor a pump had appeared. Upon his arrival he 

[48] 



GOD ? S CHOSEN PAINTER 

had to stand up to a stormy meeting. But Rhodes knew that the 
owners depended on him and did not suspect how badly he 
needed their money. He treated them, all men much older than 
he, with such casualness that they were sure there must be a 
reason for his evident independence. In the end they changed the 
contract to his advantage. 

One of the new provisions stipulated that the mines had to 
install a reservoir to receive and store the huge quantities of 
pumped-out water. Only a few months later, just after the last 
bucket of water had been pumped out of the mines, the temporary 
reservoir burst and all the -water poured back into the mines. 
Rhodes immediately made a new contract at double the fee and 
secured for himself a monopoly for several years. 

But the plant gave Rhodes and Rudd a headache for many 
years. The engine had to be fed with wood, and there was no 
fire-wood for a hundred miles around Kimberley. As soon as 
the farmers who brought their wagons with wood over long 
distances arrived at the market it was snapped up at fancy prices. 

Rhodes bought a rickety cart with a shaggy horse. Before 
sunrise he had covered many miles and was waiting on the road 
outside Kimberley for the Boer farmers with their loads of wood 
and bought his requirements before anyone else had a chance to 
outbid him. 

c lf only the pumps. ... If only the pumps. ... If only the 
pumps. . . .* 

Rhodes drummed the rhythm of these words nervously against 
the window-pane. With every thunderstroke his body trembled. 
His whole future depended on his claims in De Beers Mine not 
being drowned and the reef not coming down. After his return 
from Oxford, he and Rudd had bought several new claims 
adjoining the old ones. The whole of De Beers Mine had been 
offered to them for 6,000. They did not have the money on hand 
at the time to accept the offer nor could they find anyone willing 
to lend them such a large amount. The new claims they had 
bought cheaply. Most owners wanted to sell. Diamond-digging 
for the last few years was no longer a one-man venture; it had 
become an industry. When the Government had repealed an old 
regulation that no one might own more than ten claims, owners 
of neighbouring claims in all mines had thrown their property 

[49] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



together. Amalgamations took place. Companies were formed. 
Mining shares became objects of speculation. On the ^London 
Stock Exchange speculators showed curiosity in "Kaffirs', as they 
called these shares. The 'Kaffir-Circus' became an arena for the 
most foolhardy and sometimes fraudulent speculations. 

Rhodes foresaw that the time would come when they would 
have to build a system of intricate galleries, hundreds of feet 
below the ground. No one knew anything about real mining, 
though miners from Wales and some fellows with experience in 
gold-mining in Australia and California had taught them a few 
tricks. Now they would need mining experts, engineers, new 
machinery, props, mechanization. Money would be needed. 

Rhodes, together with Rudd, formed all his claims in De Beers 
into a joint-stock company, the De Beers Mining Company, Ltd., 
which was joined by some other ckim-holders. This company 
owned the best sites in the mine. 

A question which troubled everyone those days and well it 
might was how long the good earth would still allow them to 
tip up her womb and rob her of her precious riches? The yellow 
ground, in which the diamonds were embedded, was running out. 
At several places blue ground had been found beneath the yellow 
strata, totally different from the upper formation. Would there 
be diamonds in the blue ground? Sufficient diamonds? Well- 
coloured and sizeable stones? And how deep would the blue 
ground go? 

A panic set in at Kimberley, Most diggers had no confidence 
in the blue formation. They sold their claims if they could. 

Only a very few men believed in the blue ground, among them 
particularly Cecil Rhodes. When experts, urgently called in by 
frantic owners, declared that according to the geological rules no 
diamonds could be expected below the yellow sand, Rhodes 
contradicted them sharply. To his partners, in the heat of such 
controversies, he remarked sarcastically: 

"Yes, they also told me in Natal, that I couldn't gtow any 
cotton there!' 

This yellow ground, he argued vehemently, was only a branch 
of a lode of volcanic eruptions. The real bed of the diamonds 
was underneath the yellow layer. So firm and convincing were 
Ms pleas that his partners finally ceased their resistance to further 
acquisitions of claims in De Beers. 

[50] 



GOD'S CHOSEN PAINTER 

Rhodes' drumming against the window-pane now took on the 
rhythm of a triumphal march. How right he had been! The blue 
ground was yielding undreamt of-results. 

Kimberley had changed during the two years of his absence. 
It had evolved into a town, complete with streets and a few modest 
brick buildings, others of corrugated-iron or wood; with churches, 
theatres and hotels; with saloon-bars, bar-lounges, private bars, 
refreshment bars and restaurant bars; with dance-halls, music- 
halls and brothels; with gambling saloons and roulette-rooms; 
with halls for baccara, chetnin-de-fer and lotteries; with races, 
bookies and tipsters; with shops and trades-folk; with banks, 
stock-brokers and 'bulls and bears'; with a suburban middle-class 
and snobs and dandies; with unctuous churchgoers who donned 
black coats on Sundays; with loafers, pick-pockets, diamond- 
smugglers, pimps, forgers and impostors; with branches of 
Europe's biggest jewel-merchants who had sent their young men 
from London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna to open offices in one of 
the new buildings; with diamond-brokers, men from Amsterdam, 
from Hatton Garden, even from Bombay; with a town-council; 
with a governmental mining-board; with police and prison. 
Kimberley had taken on an even more cosmopolitan character: 
crossing Market Square one could hear people speaking in every 
dialect of the British Isles, in German, in die tool of the Boers, 
in French, Russian, Yiddish, broad American, and Portuguese. 

Rhodes took in this picture with an expression of satisfaction. 

If only one's health will stand the strain. . . . *To do or to die'. . . . 
Much and hard work will have to be done. . . . As long as there is 
civilization, men will buy diamonds to put on women's fingers. . . 
Diamonds, many diamonds perhaps too many of the glittering 
stones lie hidden in the blue ground, . . . We have to keep up 
their rarity-value and must not let the supply become bigger than 
the demand. . . . We have to keep up prices to meet the increased 
production expenses. . . . Now they dictate prices from London, 
Amsterdam or Paris. . . . We will have to make diamonds once 
more rare enough to be able to ask our own price. . . . We will 
have to regulate the output, regulate the sale, regulate the price. . . . 
But how? Bright Merriman has hit on the right idea: monopoly 
by a general amalgamation. . . . One has to progress slowly, 
unobserved and carefully not to frighten away one's chances. 
Connexions, alliances and combinations will have to be made to 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

join hands with some of the big-money people* enterprising men 
like the Rothschilds. . . . One must have money, one must have 
powel: . . . money and power. . . . 

The tapping on the glass stopped abruptly. Rhodes looked at 
his wrist. He became afraid when he noticed on his left hand the 
joining point of the raised arteries distinctly throbbing up and 
down. If only one's health. . . .* 

He quickly cleared the table of its papers. His friends were 
coming home. Together with two other young men he was now 
living in a wood-and-iron house away -from the diggers' quarters 
in what was already at that time called c a select part of the town'. 
In this house he messed with eleven friends known in town as 
the 'Twelve Apostles'. 

Rhodes needed people around him in the evenings and always 
tried to keep them there as long as he could. During the day he 
pfeferred to be left alone. But in the evening he dreaded solitude 
and in later years used to keep his visitors up half the night. 

In the hour before dinner, when his friends assembled in his sit- 
ting-room for the traditional <sun-downer*, Rhodes, as usual, began 
and directed the conversation by bursting into a lengthy monologue. 

That day he was in an extraordinarily quiet and pensive mood. 
In an unusually soft voice he told them: 

In Oxford I had to read a damned lot of philosophy. Once 
came across a passage about the importance of having an aim in 
life sufficiently high to justify spending one's life in trying to 
reach it. Made a deep impression, a deep impression on me. What 
should be one's aim in life? This much I know: I have not yet 
found it. One has still to seek it. . . .* 

He stopped abruptly in the middle of the sentence. The cold 
atmosphere, which told him that the majority of his friends would 
not be able *to follow him, was interrupted when someone asked 
Rhodes: 

*Why did you come out to South Africa?* 

'Why 'did I come to Africa why did I come to Africa? Well, 
they will tell you that I came out on account of my health or out 
of love of adventure a sort of wanderlust. To some extent that 
may be true. But the real fact is that I could no longer stand the 
smell of eternal cold mutton at home . . . the eternal cold mutton 
at home!' 

[5*] 



GOD S CHOSEN PAINTER 

And, while rubbing his hands along his left side, there followed 
his usual laughter, starting with a loud chuckle and going over 
into a staccato of falsetto shrieks, still stammering between the 
fits: c Smell of cold mutton ... of cold mutton . . . mutton!' 

There was an embarrassed silence until Rhodes, having 
recovered from his laughing fit, addressed a thin, rather short 
and insignificant-looking man across the room whose large 
square head showed the first signs of baldness. A drooping 
moustache under an amusing snub nose; two melancholic wide- 
set black eyes, the eyes of an affectionate dog, as a friend called 
them; the full-lipped mouth of an epicurean, a mouth ready to 
kiss, yet also capable of remaining shut for any length of time, to 
hurl unexpectedly a very few but bitter sarcasms into a conversa- 
tion; these features constituted a face, pale, cold and reserved, 
yet a face of which a stranger once observed that 'one could draw 
at sight 5 on it. His hands were speaking hands, long, white and 
well cared-for, the hands of a sculptor, or of a violinist; nervous 
hands, dry, clean, strong hands, beautiful though alarming hands, 
like those on the portraits of decadent Renaissance princes; the 
hands of a skilful surgeon. 

Rhodes had to repeat his question twice: 'And what made 
Dr Jim come to Africa?* 

Even then it took some seconds until the reply came in a quiet, 
rather monotonous deep voice: 

C A slightly mouldy lobe of the lungs to be dry-cleaned by the 
rays of the African sun and to make as quickly as possible as 
much money as I can be it by my skill with scalpel and knife or 
by luck at the card-table that I can fulfil the dream and only 
ambition of my life three acres and a cow in Sussex!' 

This was one of the longest speeches which had ever come from 
Dr Jameson. He usually expressed his utter boredom by an out- 
ward jerk of his hands or by merely raising an eyebrow. 

Dr Leander Starr Jameson could not be sized up easily. He 
himself was not quite clear about his own feelings, or his aims 
and ambitions in life. When he came to Kimberley in 1878, not 
quite twenty-five years old, so many different and contradictory 
inclinations lay dormant in him that they bewildered him and 
caused in him many complexities which he tried to evade by 
manifold diversions. He took to gambling. 

He was a fine surgeon and had akeady distinguished himself 

[53] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

in London hospitals as an extraordinary young doctor who 
promised a brilliant career. In Kimberley Dr Jameson missed the 
.excitement of the operating theatre. His practice, though it 
brought him a very good income, did not satisfy him. His tactful 
manners, though distant and rather haughty, made him very 
popular. Women of all kinds were particularly attracted by his 
indifference, cynicism and callousness. Easy conquests did not 
interest him. Without excitement there was no pleasure for him. 

The only excitement that he could find in Kimberley's primitive- 
ness was at the card-table. The same cold-blooded unimpassioned 
mind which he had applied to difficult operations directed his 
hand at poker. 

He became a great gambler. No stake was too high for him. 
When he held cards in his hands he did not utter an unnecessary 
word. He never allowed his brain to become clouded by drink 
while playing. He only drank ginger-beer. 

Even when he once lost his entire savings at poker he did not 
stop. He staked his 'house. He lost. Next came his carriage and 
horses. He lost. Jameson now ventured his practice. He lost. 
His friends gave him a small amount to try again, for the last 
time. He won. When he rose from his chair in the small hours of 
the morning he had regained all his losses and in addition won 
a substantial amount. He knew, he said, yawning, that he would 
be able to rely on his luck. 

Rhodes and Jameson were immediately attracted to each other. 
They were of almost the same age, Rhodes being five months 
younger. The friendship between the two men confirmed the 
truth of the French proverb: Les extremes se touchent. Rhodes, at 
heart, was a romantic. That a financier, -a ruthless, scheming, 
callous money-maker, should indulge in romantic ideas sounds 
contradictory. Have not mass murderers been known to keep 
canaries in their cells? Do not child-slaughterers sometimes caress 
a flower-pot on the window-sill? Have not habitual criminals 
cried like children when their pet mouse was killed by a warder? 
Did not Henry Ford remove his birth-place, a complete village, 
and rebuild it in Detroit? Romanticism always crops up. 

Cecil Rhodes was never able to cast off his school-boyish 
romanticism. The combination of his *two universities of life', 
Kimberley and Oxford, had nurtured in him a conglomerate of 
contradictions. In his brain insufficiently digested philosophical 

[54] 




The diamond market at 
Kimberley in 1888. Alfred 
Beit's office is on the extreme 
left 



Alfred Beit 




Old Kimberley. The Club on 
Du Toit's Pan Road in 1888 




Charles Dunell Rudd 



GOD S CHOSEN PAINTER 

ideas from the classics, political catch-phrases of the time* the 
claptrap display of British Imperialism, his freshly acquired second- 
hand Darwinism, his own juvenile optimism and the anxiety- 
neurosis caused by his defective heart, all battled against the base, 
the corrupt, the merciless methods which one had to apply to be 
successful in the world of business. The slight touch of culture 
he had brought to Africa from Oxford made him see a problem 
in everything. His restlessness prevented him from delivering 
himself completely to long inactive meditations. Finally his 
intuition, his instinct, his impulsiveness dispersed all scruples. 

Dr Jameson's mind, trained on science, was never troubled by 
emotional entanglements but he, too, was impulsive, though it 
was not the nervous impulsiveness of Rhodes. It was born out 
of temperamental impatience. 

Rhodes had the better brain, a wider vision and a stronger 
power of imagination. Jameson was the quicker thinker of the 
two. The Doctor was brilliant, a man of the world, full of con- 
vincing charm. Rhodes* brain had to labour to produce thoughts. 
He never lost his boyish shyness. 

Rhodes was ambitious. He was permanently on the search to 
satisfy his ambition. He always had to have new schemes to 
exercise his thirst for power, to assert himself, to fight for some- 
thing or against somebody. 

Dr Jameson had no personal ambitions. Those which he had, 
had been fully satisfied during the first years of his professional 
life. Through his profession he had become accustomed to finding 
ready situations for his actions. He did not have the patience to 
allow conditions to mature and bring forth new situations. Just 
like Rhodes, he could not wait. 

Neither Rhodes nor Jameson were happy men. Both demanded 
more from life than they received; the one because bis ambitions 
never found an end; the other because he felt frustrated through 
the lack of any ambitions. 

Rhodes looked up to the Doctor, probably the first scientist 
he had met, full of admiration for his cold-blooded logic. He was 
attracted by Jameson's cynicism which had its source in the 
Doctor's emotional poverty. Rhodes* cynicism was born out of 
his contempt for men. 

Though Rhodes was the weaker personality of the two, 
Jameson immediately succumbed to him and allowed himself to 

[55] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

become a tool in Ms hands and did not hesitate to venture his 

future fate on Rhodes. Together with Rhodes, he was sure, he 
would never have a dull moment. And boredom he feared far 

more than poverty. 

The others had gone in to dinner. Rhodes and Jameson were 
still finishing their drinks. Rhodes' eye fell on the small figure of 
a young man sitting alone in a corner. He could not have been 
much over five feet. As compensation for his diminutive stature 
Nature had placed on his tiny frail body an enormous head with 
a conspicuously wide forehead. People were immediately struck 
by the lustre of his large brown eyes. They were dreamy eyes, 
but at the same time the penetrating eyes of a man who is accus- 
tomed to go to the bottom of things. From time to time this 
young man took from his pocket a small parcel carefully wrapped 
in tissue paper. Inside, between pads of cotton-wool, there lay 
a large white diamond. Carefully he took out the precious stone, 
held it against the light, looked at it from all angles, turning it 
again and again, twisting it between his fingers, toying with it 
all the while. One had the feeling that the touch of this beautiful 
stone gave him a pleasant physical sensation. 

His eyes and ears did not miss anything that was going on in 
the room. He therefore gave no signs of surprise when he heard 
Rhodes address him: 

*Is little Beit again up in the clouds or calculating how much 
profit this little stone will fetch in Hatton Garden? We want to 
know what brought you from the Fatherland to Africa's inhospit- 
able plains?* 

Beit was always nervous in society. Such blunt questions 
embarrassed him. A quick blush spread over his face: 

'Hum, if you want to know only one reason; to make money, 
to make enough money to give my mother in Hamburg a thousand 
pounds a year and keep her a carriage and pair with a liveried 
coachman. . . / 

In comparison with Rhodes and Jameson he seemed dwarfed, 
and not only physically. By seldom taking part in general con- 
versations he was overlooked by those who did not know him. 
Rhodes once declared that he was the finest listener he had ever 
met in his life. There was always astonishment when he was 
introduced as Herr Alfred Beit. No one expected Rhodes* closest 

[56] 



GOD S CHOSEN PAINTER 

collaborator, the finest financial brain in South Africa, and one 
of the richest men in the British Empire, to have an almost 
negative personality. People were still more surprised when they 
learnt that Herr Beit was a Jew* 

It always annoyed Rhodes in the first years when, as sometimes 
happened, people mixed him up with Beit, thinking that he was 
the Jew because he looked so ^typically Jewish'. 

Neither could people detect anything ^typically German* in 
Alfred Beit. It was said of him that he had all the good qualities 
and characteristics of the Germans and the Jews without showing 
any of their weaknesses or faults. 

Alfred Beit's father had been a wealthy merchant in Hamburg. 
Before he died he lost his fortune and left his wife, three sons 
and several daughters in reduced circumstances, 

Alfred Beit was born in 1853, six days after Rhodes. By a 
strange coincidence the three principal actors in South Africa's 
history were born in the same year and within a few months of 
each other. Relations advised the mother to send Alfred abroad 
to learn a trade. At the age of seventeen he was apprenticed to the 
well-known diamond merchants, Messrs Robinow of Amsterdam. 
For five hard years he learnt everything there was to be learnt 
about diamonds. His uncle Lippert, a wealthy merchant in 
Hamburg, had a branch in South Africa, and after the discovery 
of diamonds the house of Lippert entered into the diamond trade. 
It was only natural that they asked their young relative to join 
them there. 

Beit came to Kimberley in 1875. He had a great advantage over 
most of the other merchants, agents and diggers in that he was 
thoroughly familiar with the diamond trade, was an expert in the 
valuation of stones and was known personally to, and trusted by, 
all the important diamond dealers of the world. 

He was not willing to have his knowledge exploited by an 
employer, not even a relative, without participating in the profits. 
His chance came when Jules Forges of Paris, one of the world's 
greatest and wealthiest diamond merchants, who had acquired 
an interest in several Kimberley mines, needed a trustworthy 
agent there. He found him in young Beit and another German, 
Julius Wernher. These two young men became partners under the 
patronage of Porges. What induced Beit most to join hands with 
the Frenchman was the fact that Porges had excellent connections 

[57] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

with the London and Paris houses of Rothschild, and could 
finance even the most expansive projects. The firm Wernher, Beit 
and Co., was therefore founded on a very solid basis, 

Wernher, nine years older than Beit, was the son of a Prussian 
general. He was tall, massive and very blond. Though so 
different physically from his partner, he resembled Beit in -every- 
thing else: in his calm, reflective and sagacious manner, his 
methodical, almost pedantic ways, his reliability, honesty, loyalty 
and outstanding business capabilities. Wemher preferred to direct 
their business from his office and Beit had to do the outside work. 
He was therefore less well known in public and once remarked: 

"They think I am only Beit's Christian name!' 

These men, Beit with Wernher in the background and Rhodes 
and Jameson, formed the best imaginable team for the conquest 
of South Africa. Rhodes had vision and could foresee poten- 
tialities, combinations and prospects. Jameson derobed these 
dreams of their romantic wrapping and translated them into 
the language of cold facts. He found the essentials, and with his 
sceptical, cynical and logical mind he diagnosed, disinfected and 
dissected them. Next Beit would step into action. Ideas to him 
mean t figures. His brain, the brain of a financial genius, was 
divided into double-entry ledger accounts. It could at an instant 
reduce any idea to a balance sheet. Rhodes found delight in 
juggling with big amounts like a conjurer. Beit with the pride 
of a craftsman preferred to be admired for the solidity and 
cleanness of his financial transactions, Beit soon became Rhodes* 
business conscience, his financial encyclopaedia and his ready 
reckoner. And there was Wernher, the Prussian Junker turned 
London City magnate. In the end the ball was passed to him to 
procure the money on the international money markets. 

When Alfred Beit had arrived in Kimberley, he was amazed at 
the conditions on the diamond-fields. Business there was con- 
ducted by means of fraud, deceit and corruption. At least half 
of all the stones on the market were stolen goods and had 
originally been acquired from Natives by unscrupulous dealers. 
Later the situation had improved through the strict laws against 
I.D.B. (Illicit Diamond Buying) imposed by the Cape Govern- 
ment. 

Young, unknown, and unfamiliar with the ways of Kimberley, 
how could one let the diggers and buyers know that Alfred Beit 

[58] 



GOD S CHOSEN PAINTER 

from Hamburg would give them a fair deal? He would, he 
reckoned, first have to give them proof that he trusted them. As 
an expert he was able to determine much better than anyone else 
the true quality and market price of diamonds. Thus, content 
with a reasonable profit, he was usually able to offer a higher price 
than those who were not quite so sure about the real value of the 
stone and who had to be careful to avoid risks. As Beit wanted 
to handle only the best quality and refused to deal in faulty 
diamonds, he soon acquired regular customers, and buyers in 
London and Amsterdam learnt quickly that they could rely on 
him. 

Rhodes had first noticed Beit when he encountered him on his 
early morning rides. And late at night, he saw that this little man 
seemed to work regularly when others sat in bars or were already 
in bed. One night when he saw the door of the wooden hut open 
he stepped in and asked: 

T)o you never take a rest, Mr Beit?* 

'Not often/ 

'Well, what's your game?* 

Beit climbed off his uncomfortable high office-stool and, looking 
up at the six-foot Rhodes, he replied, twisting his insignificant 
little moustache: 

*I am going to control the whole diamond output before I am 
much older/ 

*I have made up my mind to do the same; we had better join 
hands/ 

Thus started their friendship. It was more than a business- 
partnership which led these two men, so different in provenance, 
character, temperament, mentality and nationality to march close 
together for a quarter of a century. The friendship weathered 
even the stormy period of Rhodes* march on Africa. 

Beit was and wanted to be only a business man. He had no 
other ambitions. For him business was not a means to an end 
but an end in itself. Money was only a second consideration. 
Having no interests for which he needed money, as he was not 
out for power in any form, with no social ambitions and indulging 
in no extravagances, he devoted his life to his business in the 
belief of fulfilling a duty, and also to help Rhodes to materialize 
his visions. Beit was a modest man. He left the glory and the 
applause to Rhodes whom he accepted as the leader. Yet, as 

[59] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

General Smuts, who knew both men intimately, stated: 'Without 

Beit, Rhodes might have been a mere political visionary, bereft 
of power of practical creation.' 

When Rhodes was seized with an attack of loquacity nothing 
could stop him. That night when he went back to his sitting-room 
accompanied by a few of his friends, among them Rudd, Dr 
Jameson and Beit, he started immediately on his favourite subject, 
British policy. 

1 tell you/ he said, 1 believe with Ruskin that all healthy men 
love to fight and the sensation of danger; all courageous women 
love to hear of such fight and how to brave this danger. And 
I agree with Ruskin that we Britishers have lost within the last 
ten years our spurs as a knightly nation; where we should not 
have fought, we fought purely -for the sake of profit; where we 
should not have been disinterested we have looked on because 

we were frightened And I believe what Ruskin said that we 

have to expect the highest destiny that was ever granted to a 
nation. A road of glory is opened to us as it has never been offered 
to a beggarly crowd of mortals. , . . 

*I have read the history of other countries and I see that 
expansion, that imperialism, is everything. The world's surface is 
limited, therefore the great object should be to take as much of 
it as we can. . . / 

Rhodes stood up. His face had turned a dark red. He went to 
the wall where his old crumpled map of Africa was pinned up. 
With his big hand, carefully covering his crippled fifth finger 
with his fourth, he went over the large white spaces in Southern 

and Central Africa In a voice which was hoarse with emotion 

and which with each repetition rose into a higher pitch, he 
shouted: 

I want to see that all red I want to see that all red British 
red ... I want to see that all red British red . . . British red, 
British red, British red . . . red, red, red!' 

At about the same time a nervous, inhibited and unhappy 
young man, his crippled left arm hidden under a military cape, 
stood in front of an antique screen on which was depicted 
allegorically in the form of a broad river the history of mankind 
from the time of the Greeks and Romans till the Napoleonic 
epoch. The young man, who was soon to occupy the imperial 

[60] 



GOD^S CHOSEN PAINTER 

throne of Germany, had his finger on a little tributary, repre- 
senting Prussia, and with a vibrating voice, lifting his hand in a 
threatening gesture he spoke: 

*This shall be a very big river some dayP 

The old crumpled map on the wall seemed to have intoxicated 
Rhodes. He continued to speak in an almost toneless voice as if 
he were frightened by the magnitude of his thoughts: 

c lt often strikes a man to inquire what is the chief good in life; 
to one the thought comes that it is a happy marriage s to another 
great wealth, and as each seizes on the idea, for that he more or 
less works for the rest of Ms existence. To myself, thinking over 
the same question, the wish came to me to render myself useful 
to my country. I then asked the question, how could I? 

f l contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the 
more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. 
I contend that every acre added to our territory means the birth 
of more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought 
into existence. Added to this, the absorption of the greater 
portion of the world under our rule simply means the end of all 
wars. The objects one should work for are first the furtherance of 
the British Empire, the bringing of the whole uncivilized world 
under British rule, the recovery of the United States, the making 
of the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire. 

'What a dream! but yet it is probable. It is possible. 

*I once heard it argued so low have we fallen in my own 
college, I am sorry to own it, by Englishmen, that it was a good 
thing for us that we lost the United States. There are some subjects 
on which therq can be no argument, and to an Englishman this 
is one of themf But even from an American's point of view just 
picture what they have lost. . . . All this we have lost and that 
country has lost, owing to whom? Owing to two or three 
ignorant, pig-headed statesmen in the last century. At their door 
is the blame. Do you ever feel mad, do you ever feel murderous? 
I think I do with these men. 

'What is the highest thing in the world? Is it not the idea of 
Justice? I know none higher. Justice between man and man 
equal, absolute, impartial, fair play to all; that surely must be the 
first note of a perfect society. But, secondly, there must be liberty, 
for without freedom there can be no justice. Slavery in any form 
which denies a man a right to be himself, and to use all his 

[6!] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

faculties to their best advantage, is, and must always be, unjust. 
And the third note of the ultimate towards which our race is 
bending must surely be that of peace, of the industrial common- 
wealth as opposed to the military clan or fighting Empire. 

^Therefore, if there be a God and I believe there is a fifty 
per cent chance of the existence of God Almighty and He cares 
anything about what I do, I think it is clear that He would like 
me to do what He is doing Himself. And as He is manifestly 
fashioning the English-speaking race as the chosen instrument by 
which He will bring in a state of society based upon Justice, 
Liberty and Peace, He must obviously wish me to do what I can 
to give as much scope and power to that race as possible. 

'Hence if there be a God, I think that what He would like me 
to do is to paint as much of the map of Africa British red as 
possible, and to do what I can elsewhere to promote the unity 
and extend the influence of the English-speaking race/ 

Rhodes heaved a deep sigh. He went to his desk. From its 
drawer he took an envelope containing a sheaf of papers covered 
in his boyish handwriting. 

Placing his hand on his heart, he said softly: 

*I am not a healthy man. I suffer from heart attacks, because of 
a leaking heart- valve. One can't know when one's hour is coming. 
I had written it all down on this paper my last will/ 

In this paper 'Cecil John Rhodes, Esq., of Oriel College, 
Oxford, but presently of Kimberley in the Province of Griqualand- 
West', left in trust his entire estate to Lord Carnarvon, Secretary 
of State for the Colonies in Her Britannic Majesty's Government 
and to his successors in office and to Sidney Godolphin Shippard, 
Attorney-General of Griqualand-West: 

To and for the establishment, promotion and development of 
a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be the 
extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of 
a system of emigration from the United Kingdom, and of coloniza- 
tion by British subjects of aU lands where the means of livelihood 
are attainable by energy, labour and enterprise, and especially the 
occupation by British settlers of the entire Continent of Africa, the 
Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the Islands of Cyprus and 
Candia, the whole of South America, the Islands of the Pacific not 
heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay 
Archipelago, the seaboard of China and Japan, the ultimate recovery 

[62] 



GODS CHOSEN PAINTER 

of the United States of America as an integral part of the British 
Empire, the inauguration of a system of Colonial representation in 
the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld together the dis- 
jointed members of the Empire, and, finally* the foundation of so 
great a Power as hereafter to render wars impossible and promote 
the best interest of humanity. 

This document humain speaks against Rhodes not only in the 
schoolboy-romanticism of a twenty-five-year-old man, but by the 
fact that in later years, when, through Ms economic and political 
power, he was already a considerable factor in actively shaping 
the world's politics, he did not repudiate this puerile stolidity. 
When he came across it, instead of reading with frowning amuse- 
ment about a juvenile irresponsible folly and then burning it, he 
kept it and showed it proudly to his intimates. Twenty years 
later he had not given up Ms mad idea of a secret society and 
many other of Ms childish thoughts. Some of them recur in Ms 
meditations until Ms last years. 

It may be accepted, therefore, that tMs muddled romanticism 
of a schoolboy became the driving ffiofif of Cecil Rhodes, the 
Empire-builder, though, as we shall see in Ms later life, the 
mercenary instinct entered into it as a mighty counterpoint. Point 
and counterpoint chased each other in gay pursuit until the 
vigorous money-leitmotiv could be covered only slightly by the 
mighty blast of patriotic themes. 

Rhodes' testament has been called even by admiring biographers 
and hero-worsMppers 'absurd*, 'pathetic*, 'childish', 'sophomoric 5 
and 'pathetically naive'. There is more to it than that: the 
'apostolic fervour' with wMch he believed in Ms strange brand of 
British Imperialism was caused by Ms suffering for too long from 
a retarded puberty. Healthy normal English boys sweat out their 
glandular troubles on the sports fields. Less robust boys either 
work off their secretory overflow in active romanticism or fill 
pages with lyrical verses or bloody dramas. Rhodes was not 
strong enough for the one and no longer young enough for the 
other. In addition he seemed to have lacked certain constitutional 
properties as indicated by Ms Mgh-pitched voice, Ms complete 
disinterest in girls and a rather sparse growth of beard. He 
tried to compensate for such lacks by delivering Mtnself to an 
almost mystic imperialism based on a militant creed of racial 
superiority. 

[63] 



CHAPTER V 

ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

K i ODES was one of the few who had weathered all the storms 
descending on the diamond-fields. In 1882, again under a 
world depression, the diamond market hit rock-bottom. Rhodes 
had bought still further claims in De Beers Mine. The shares of 
his company, the De Beers Diamond Mining Co., Ltd., now with 
a capital of more than 800,000, had also reached fantastic figures. 
By selling them at their highest "prices and rebuying at a very low 
figure, Rhodes and his friends had made considerable profits. 
Every amount at their disposal was used to buy new claims. 
However, Rhodes had also made liberal use of bank-credits, and 
like everyone else he was unable to meet his obligations towards 
the bank. His company suffered under these unfavourable condi- 
tions. 

It was not only the financial situation that gave all Kimberley 
sleepless nights. The reef was again falling in. The richest mines 
were covered overnight with thousands and thousands of tons 
of earth. It meant that for months it would be impossible to dig 
for a single diamond, and the removal of the fallen-in reef presented 
an expense which could bring ruin to the most solid company. 
A calamity like that swallowed much of De Beers big profits. 
The dividends were very small and De Beers shares were worth 
only half their nominal value. 

Rhodes* belief in Kimberley's future remained unshattered. 
He had already made all his preparations for underground work 
in shafts. His aim, now no longer mere speculation but a necessity, 
was to own all the claims in the mine. Nothing deterred him; 
neither fallen reefs, nor world crises, nor impatient bank-managers. 

The scramble for wealth continued in Kimberley. The four 
mines of Kimberley, covering altogether the small area of seventy 
acres, were exploited by ninety-eight individual owners. 

As 'little Beit' had foreseen years before, the future, of 
Kimberley and its diamonds depended on an amalgamation of 
the whole mining industry. Rhodes knew that without Beit's 

[64] 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

co-operation his own and De Beers' future was doomed. Unlike 
Rhodes, ''little Beit* was familiar since his apprentice days with 
juggling on the stock exchange. 

For the time being there seemed to be little hope of interesting 
cautious city magnates in South African diamond mines. The 
Times wrote in 1882, twelve years after work had started on 
Kimberley's diamond-fields and after the yearly export had reached 
the spectacular figure of iz million, that 'reports from South 
Africa are wicked inventions of adventurers circulated for the 
purpose of rigging the market'; 

There was no time to be lost. Rhodes and Beit were not alone 
in the field. Amalgamation, with a consequent monopoly, was in 
the air. Others were apparently working to the same purpose, 
particularly Kimberley's present richest man, J. B. Robinson, the 
owner of valuable diamond-claims. Rhodes usually tried to over- 
come opposition by negotiations. He therefore wanted to join 
hands with Robinson; but to have dealings with Robinson without 
being squashed by him required superhuman talents. Among 
South Africa's many shrewd, cunning and ruthless financiers he 
was considered by far the cleverest. 

His uncontrollable aggressiveness soon clashed with Rhodes' 
iron determination and even with Beit's diplomatic pliability. He 
believed that these two were out to rob him, and broke off the 
negotiations abruptly. From that moment onward Rhodes became 
his greatest enemy whom he would fight by any means, fair or 
foul, even after death, and who supplied him for almost twenty 
years with the only pleasure an ever-increasing hatred in his 
drab life. In spite of his proverbial meanness he did not mind 
spending large amounts when there was a chance to injure Rhodes 
personally, financially, politically or socially. 

To characterize this man one has to use the exceptional way of 
starting with his death. When Robinson died in 1929, eighty-nine 
years old, his will, disposing of his fortune of about twelve million 
sterling in favour of his family with the exception of one 
daughter and her two children whom he cut off cruelly with a 
mere trifle of two thousand pounds without leaving a single 
penny to any charity or national institution, roused a storm of 
indignation throughout South Africa and Britain. His meanness 
after death corresponded with his stinginess during his lifetime. 
The general disgust at the will was expressed by a leading article, 

[65] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

tinder the heading NI1 nisi malurtf, in South Africa's most 
prominent newspaper, the Cape Times, which always prided itself 
tightly on its high journalistic standard. From this strange obituary 
can be gauged the degree of contempt in which Joseph Benjamin 
Robinson, whom his King had made a Baronet, was held: 

. . . His eyes were shut during his lifetime. After his death his will 
speaks out the almost incredible malignity of his nature. 

That is one way in which this will stinks to Heaven though the 
mention of Heaven in this connection trenches on blasphemy 
against the elementary canons of private human decency. It stinks 
too, against public decency. This man owed the whole of his immense 
fortune to the chances of life in South Africa. He has not left a penny 
out of all his millions to any public purpose in this country which 
has showered these immense gifts on him. It would have been less 
scandalous that he should have failed to leave anything to any public 
purpose if during his life he had been a public or a private benefactor, 
even on a scale of temperate liberality. He was not. His immunity 
against any impulse of generosity, private or public, was so notorious 
that the name of J. B. Robinson became during his lifetime proverbial 
for stinginess, not only in South Africa but wherever men of the 
world congregate together. . . . Such a will as this . . . carries a dreadful 
penalty. It brands the name of the man who made it with an infamy 
so conspicuous as far to transcend the highest pinnacle of scorn 
whidrthe indignation of his contemporaries could have raised against 
him. The evil which the dead man thus speaks of himself is terrible 
to contemplate. It will live in the records of South Africa for all 
time; . . . the loathsomeness of the thing that is the memory of Sir 
Joseph Robinson. 

They called him 'the Buccaneer*. There was something menacing 
in his appearance, like the pirates of old depicted in boys' stories, 
as he waddled through the streets of Kimberley, always a white 
sun-helmet on his head. 'Sour faced and green with spleen like 
a leek. ... He had no personality, no magnetism, but resembled 
a mortal who had a tombstone on his soul/ Thus he was described 
by a contemporary. 

Besides his greed Robinson was driven by a morbid ambition: 
he wanted to make more money than anyone else; he wanted to 
be a leader; he wanted to outdo everybody. With jealous eyes he 
watched Rhodes' rising position. Not only could he compete 
with Rhodes in business but he outstripped him considerably in 

[66] 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

wealth. But the English parson's son, thirteen years his junior, 
possessed that enviable quality which Robinson, the shopkeepers 
son s would never acquire in spite of all his fabulous riches: to be 
accepted as a 'gentleman'. 

Robinson felt his social isolation. For these reasons, Ms hurt 
pride worming him, the destruction of Rhodes became an 
obsession in the vain man's life. He who would not dream of 
throwing a penny to a starving piccaninny, who was known never 
to enter a bar before making sure that there was no one in it for 
whom he would possibly have to buy a drink, was to spend 
thousands of pounds in an attempt to ruin Rhodes. 

Robinson was feared, hated and despised in Kimberley. Rhodes 
was equally unpopular but for other reasons. His eccentric 
manners, his moodiness and moroseness made him thoroughly 
disliked by people who knew him only slightly. Most of his 
acquaintances shrugged their shoulders at the shabbiness of his 
clothes. It was eccentricity carried to the point of disreputability. 
He seemed to take delight in shocking people by deliberate rude- 
ness; or he would embarrass them by ignoring everybody, sitting 
in a corner in moody silence to break out suddenly into a strange 
loud jocular mood interspersed with his nerve-racking shrill 
falsetto laughter. All in Kimberley at that time agreed that- the 
impression one gained of Cecil Rhodes was not that of a man 
of almost thirty, holding a responsible position, but of an 
irresponsible, spoilt, badly-brought-up boy whose head had been 
turned by success. 

It was generally admitted that Rhodes possessed extremely 
high business faculties. When an important decision had to be 
made in Kimberley concerning the diamond industry, his advice 
was mostly accepted. Otherwise, if not absolutely necessary, 
nobody wanted to have anything to do with him. 

One of his friends summarized the situation in the words: "It is 
difficult to be sufficiently unconventional to shock a mining camp, 
but Rhodes shocked it/ 

His private life contributed considerably to his unpopularity. 
That a healthy and rich young man should voluntarily renounce 
the major pleasures of life was beyond the understanding of 
Kimberley's easy-going crowd. Ugly rumours circulated about 
him. That he lived together with a young man, his secretary 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Pickering, mixed only with Dr Jameson, Beit and Rudd, all 
bachelors, was never seen with a woman, shunned the company of 
all other men and seldom entered a bar, seemed unnatural to most. 

One cannot expect the gossips of Kimberley to have delved into 
so complex a problem as a neurosis in a highly-strung young man, 
physically and psychologically impeded. His leaking heart-valve, 
even when it did not actually trouble him, must have caused the 
unrest and depressions that alternated with boisterous outbursts. 

Rhodes at that time was passing through a serious crisis. He 
had staked his entire existence, as well as that of his friends, on 
one card De Beers Mine. Any day falling reefs might dash all 
his hopes. No one could foresee with certainty how long his 
mines would still yield such rich results or any results at all. 

It was not only a question of money. His prestige, too, was at 
stake; and the realization of his dreams. The boyish dreams, 
though still the same, were now slowly taking the shape of more 
realistic plans: he had to make money, to gain power. Power was 
necessary to execute his next step, to paint Central Africa red, 
British red. 

Yet in making money Rhodes found no satisfaction. He had 
been happier in the early Kimberley days when he worked for 
himself and was able to give free play to his thoughts, sitting in 
the sun all day. Now, lately, he was incarcerated in an office. As 
the head of a large enterprise he was forced to receive a great 
number of people, many of them total strangers. He had not yet 
lost his shyness. To overcome this embarrassing weakness he took 
shelter behind a wall of cynicism, arrogance and rudeness. 

With his rapidly increasing wealth and consequently growing 
responsibility Rhodes felt the lack of the warmth of true com- 
panionship more than ever. He had never learnt the art of making 
friends which consists in giving and taking, but perhaps his 
greatest loss was the sudden death of his eldest brother Herbert. 
Of all his brothers and friends none stood so near to his heart. 
Herbert had made a man of him in Natal and had been to him the 
personification of an English gentleman. 

Rhodes felt lonely. The friendship with Dr Jameson, Beit and 
Rudd could not replace the intimate link between the two brothers . 

Only sickly young Pickering possessed his full confidence. 
Dr Jameson was too much of a cynic, Beit too much of a double- 
entry calculating machine and Rudd too much of the correct and 

[68] 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

conservative cricket-playing Public School boy to follow him in 
his far-reaching plans of a Pax Britannica as visualised in his 
Last Will five years before. Young Pickering hung on his 
Master's lips. 

When Rhodes* heart again caused him sleepless nights he was 
no longer frightened by the appearance of ghosts, though still by 
the thought of death and the short time probably left to Mm. 
The Last Will was taken out of the drawer. With his boyish scrawl 
he added to the document the words: 

KIMBERLEY, 28 OCTOBER 1 882. 

I, C. J. Rhodes, being of sound mind, leave my worldly wealth 
to N. E. Pickering. 

The next morning he handed the astonished young man a 
closed envelope containing his will, and a letter: 

My dear Pickering, Open the enclosed after my death. There 
is an old will of mine with Graham, whose conditions are very 
curious and can only be carried out by a trustworthy person, and I 
consider you one. 

C. J. RHODES. 

You fully understand you are to use interest of money as you 
like during your life. 

While still hovering in the lofty regions of his boyish dreams 
the first step towards gaining power had been taken. The oppor- 
tunity arose when Griqualand was formally incorporated in the 
Cape Colony and was to be represented in the Cape Parliament. 

Rhodes naturally wanted to stand for Kimberley. He soon felt 
a strong opposition working against him. When the Old Buccaneer 
learnt that Rhodes was contesting the Kimberley seat he immedi- 
ately made up his mind that there was only one man entitled to 
represent the diamond industry in Parliament: J. B. Robinson! 

Rhodes had to be satisfied with contesting a seat in a rural 
district near Kimberley, Barkly West, inhabited largely by 
Afrikaner farmers and coloured farm-hands. A certain number of 
Natives, 'raw* Natives fresh from their kraals as yet untouched by 
urban influences, though holding only nominal voting qualifica- 
tions according to the still liberal Cape Colony rights, carried 
great weight in this thinly populated constituency. No secret 
ballot existed. A lively trade in buying and selling votes went 
on quite openly. On election day friends of Rhodes* brought a 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

troop of about 250 well-prepared Natives to the polls to vote 
for Rhodes and thus secured a safe majority for him. The greatest 
difficulty in his electioneering campaign Rhodes found in dis- 
pelling the distrust of the Dutch farmers in his constituency. An 
old Dutchman gave him the reason. c ln the first place, you are 
too young; in the second, you look so damnably like an English- 
man/ 

From the preparations of this election comedy the young 
Parliamentarian learned the useful lesson that popularity could 
be bought and that c every man has his price'. A generous method 
of influencing people was henceforth adopted by Rhodes as the 
chief instrument for paving his way. It developed into such a 
skilful art that he was able to apply it without danger to himself 
or the favoured recipient, no matter if he was of royal blood, 
a high statesman, an opposing financier, a whole political party 
or just anyone whom he happened to need at the time. 

*Tell me a man's ambitions and I will tell you how to square 
him, 3 he told one of his friends. Later in life he was able to boast 
proudly: *I have never met anyone in my life whom it was not as 
easy to deal with as to fight/ 

Rhodes came to Parliament with a ready plan the realization 
of his youthful dreams. All now depended on infecting the Cape 
Government with his enthusiasm for the urgent need to penetrate 
northwards into the heart of Africa and secure all the unmapped 
territories for Her Majesty the Queen. 

That difficulties, obstacles and opposition would meet him 
from all sides, he did not doubt. The Cape Colony, as he soon 
learnt, did not offer fertile ground for imperialistic expansion. 
Though Britain had ruled in the Cape for almost 200 years she 
had not yet succeeded in 'colonizing* the country by winning 
the hearts of the small white population. All efforts to anglicize 
the people were met by growing opposition from the old Dutch 
settlers in the towns as well as on the platteland* British colonies 
were ruled from Whitehall, several thousand miles away. There a 
Colonial Secretary, guided by a Cabinet which always feared the 
displeasure of a strong-willed Queen, the discontent within its own 
ranks and censure from the Opposition, had the onerous task of 
combining British rule with local urgencies within the narrow 
frame of party politics and at the same time of bridling the 

[70] 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

red-taped permanent staff of high officials In the Colonial Office 
and the administrative representatives of the Government abroad. 
These experts had acquired their experience of colonial govern- 
ment through dealing with Natives or in colonies where the 
British element was predominant* 

Psychological understanding was needed to deal with people of 
European descent, different in language, religion and mentality, 
who prided themselves in having served as pioneers of Western 
civilization on the African continent; and who always stood on 
their rights to independence as individuals. Such insight into 
psychological imponderabilities was not given to the British 
colonizers. To them the fact that they had conquered the Cape in 
1806 from the Dutch and had legalized this conquest in 1814 by a 
payment of 6,000,000 cleared them of any moral obligations. 
The Dutch inhabitants of the Cape, just like the Natives in any 
other colony, had to accept British rule as it stood or to expect 
trouble. Tactlessness, chicaneries and incompetence by British 
officials, high and low, aggravated the position. English settlers 
looked down on the Dutch population and considered themselves 
the masters of the country. 

The diamonds of Kimberley had changed the Cape Colony in 
its economic, political and social structure. Before, the country 
could scarcely eke out an existence from its agricultural products, 
wool, wine and maize. Now it had gained world-wide importance. 
Men from all nations had settled on the diamond-fields. The 
industry employed more Natives than the whole of the rest of the 
country. Trade flourished in the towns; farmers found a ready 
market for their products there. 

With clear insight Rhodes discerned at once the necessity for a 
change in the sleepy, stagnant and parochial policy of the country 
in accordance with the changed economic, political and social 
conditions. He was prepared for a hard uphill fight but when in 
April 1 88 1 he delivered his maiden-speech he made no great 
impression. His nervousness was too obvious. Lacking grace of 
oratory and charm of style, without control over his clumsy 
gestures a disturbing twitching of his hands and an ungainly 
jerking of his body he gave no cause of suspicion that he had 
once won at the grammar school at Bishop's Stortford a silver 
medal for elocution. A friend, when asked what he thought of 
this first parliamentary effort, replied with an audible sigh: 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

'Rhodes, I think you are a great parliamentary failure/ 

Equally condemning were most of the Press comments. A 
Grahamstown paper asked bluntly: 

c Who is this young man from Kimberley, come to teach us our 
business?* 

With his contempt for formality and conventions, the dignified 
stiffness of parliamentary traditions did not suit him. His negligent 
way of dressing was immediately censured; one member asked 
for a motion to make the wearing of black clothes obligatory as 
it was in the Transvaal Volksraad. Red-faced, Rhodes rose and 
in his high-pitched voice, in controlled anger, he replied slowly: 

C I am still in Oxford tweeds and I think I can legislate in them 
as well as in sable clothes.* 

To sit for hours on the same spot and to have to listen, at that, 
to other people talking meant real torture foi: Rhodes, who had 
never been schooled in debate. Among his friends, in Kimberley 
and in Oxford, it had always been he who held the floor. His 
ideas, on the few subjects in which he was interested, were not 
debatable contentions but formulated results of fanatical obses- 
sions. For these he did not require the opinions of others. 

As in his younger days his speeches were mere thinking aloud. 
They never began with an oratorical introduction but led directly 
into the matter. They stopped equally abruptly. Members would 
realize that his speech was finished when they saw him bounce 
down on his seat, defiantly sinking his hands deep into his 
trouser-pockets. 

As soon as he was in his seat, Rhodes* nervous restlessness 
began. Like a bored schoolboy in ckss, or, as a journalist said, 
*as restless as a spring dolP, he jumped up, flopped down again, 
changed his position every few minutes, sat on his hands, played 
with his papers. His shrill boisterous laughter often spluttered 
through the quietness of the small chamber. 

Rhodes, elected as an Independent, did not wait long before 
making his weight felt in the House. The frankness of his nature, 
his extraordinary energy, and the impetuous fanaticism of his 
convictions soon made him a strong force with which Parliament 
knew it would have to reckon in the near future. They all realized 
that Rhodes had not left his well-paying work in Kimberley 
without a very definite purpose. 

Cape Town opened Rhodes' eyes to South Africa. Though he 

[7*1 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

had now lived half his life in Kimberley, he had remained unaware 
of the potentialities of the country which, in the political and 
economic respect, began in the Cape Colony. In Kimberley people 
had persuaded themselves that all that counted in South Africa 
was their diamonds. Tliey thought, they spoke and they dreamt 
diamonds. None of that cosmopolitan crowd of get-rich-quick 
adventurers ever worried about racial or national problems. They 
wanted to be left alone and not to be disturbed in their money- 
grabbing activities. 

Rhodes had never before thought in terms of South Africa as a 
political factor. To him it had appeared as an inseparable part of 
the British Empire, one of the components of Her Majesty's 
possessions beyond the seas, without any national character or 
aspirations of its own. Like everyone else he had believed that the 
main task of the colonies consisted in contributing to the wealth 
and strength of the Motherland, thereby giving her enterprising 
subjects the opportunity of settling there in their younger years, 
making enough money, and in the autumn of their lives coming 
*home' and retiring in one of Suburbia's charming cottages. 
Rhodes had believed that his plans of pushing North would never 
succeed without the machinery of Whitehall. Yet from his short 
political experience he learnt that 'the constant vacillation of 
the Home Government which never knew its own mind about 
us' was a weighty factor which would probably impede the 
success of his Northern plans. His Jingo-ardour underwent a 
hard probe. 

In his political calculations he did not lose his sense of propor- 
tion: c Are we a great and independent nation? No! We are only 
the population of a third-rate English town, spread over a vast 
country/ He chided all parties for the parochial aspect from which 
they viewed South African affairs as if *the mist of Table 
Mountain covered all 5 . 

He needed allies for his project. Looking at the English 
members in the House it became obvious to him that these self- 
satisfied and narrow-minded village-pump politicians of lawyers, 
wool-merchants, shopkeepers, importers and other righteous 
petty money-bags 'had no other policy beyond that of securing 
office*. Since every one of them cared only for the safe-guarding 
of his own material interests, the English party was split into 
several factions. 

[73] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



Rhodes' hopes turned to the other side of the House. The 
Dutch members, the solid, sturdy burghers and farmers with a 
few clergymen and teachers among them, formed a compact body 
welded together by their dislike and even hatred of English rule, 
and the consciousness of an awakened South African nationalism. 
This strong national spirit had developed simultaneously with a 
movement for using Afrikaans as a written language to form the 
basis of an independent national culture. Afrikaans, a patois 
evolved from seventeenth-century Dutch, had been used only as 
a colloquial language, whereas in schools and churches as well as 
in educated families High Dutch was spoken, until in 1875 the 
Reverend S. J. Du Toit of Paarl founded 'die Genootskap van Regte 
Afrikanders' the Society of true Afrikaners with the object of 
'defending our language, our nation and our people'. Later, under 
the name of the Afrikaner Bond, this movement developed into 
a revolutionary and republican party with a programme of 
secession from British rule and the establishment of a 'united 
South Africa under its own flag' into which was to be in- 
corporated with the Cape the two South African republics, the 
Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State. 

Such extreme anti-British aspirations in view of a strong 
British garrison and bellicose Natives threatening the rear, courted 
the danger of civil war. There was one man who recognized the 
peril into which Du Toil's fanatical Bondsmen were steering. His 
impassioned logic had led him to the firm conviction that the 
quickest and safest way to secure the independence of the Cape 
lay in an evolutionary process. 

They called him 'the Mole* because he worked underground. 
Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr was more than a politician. Though he 
never held office, except once when for a few weeks he had been 
Minister without Portfolio in the Cape Government, and never 
accepted an official position in the Afrikaner Bond, he was a 
great statesman, perhaps even South Africa's greatest. 

In spite of all the disappointments which England's South 
African policy caused him and notwithstanding his critical 
attitude towards certain characteristic weaknesses of the English 
people, Hofmeyr always cherished in his heart a quiet admiration 
for Britain, especially for her culture, her historical tradition and 
English sport. 

A man who for twenty years was the most prominent protagonist 

[74] 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

of England's national games, football and cricket, and who for 
twenty years was the president of leading sports clubs, could 
hardly have been such a dangerous Anglophobe as the London 
authorities and English Press believed Hofmeyr to be. Bitterly 
he complained that in England he was held up as c a Nihilist and 
a Red Republican' and that as a member of the Afrikaner Bond 
he was believed to pray every night for England's flag in the 
Cape to be hauled down and the Colony's own flag to be hoisted. 

Such accusations offended Hofmeyr' s susceptibilities. He prided 
himself on political honesty. His honesty had caused him to 
renounce a clerical career as he could not accept the official 
orthodox views of his superiors. As a political journalist he had 
started at the age of seventeen as the editor of an influential 
Afrikaans paper he was cruelly and honestly outspoken. 
Through his frankness he had won the respect, if not the love, 
of his fellow-countrymen. And only his blunt and undemagogk 
candour had allowed him to succeed in ousting Du Toit from the 
Bond and in forging this party into a strong and weighty instru- 
ment for a constructive South African policy of independence. 
Its aim was federation with the help of Britain instead of a futile 
anti-British republicanism with revolutionary operetta-methods. 
Du Toit left the field and accepted a governmental position in the 
Transvaal. 

Hofmeyr now had the Bond under his thumb. 'The Mole* was 
looking out for allies. The Bond, though the strongest single 
party, needed a coalition to break the English block in power. 
Rhodes felt that Hofmeyr, a man eight years his senior, well 
versed in parliamentary jugglery, and with a strong party behind 
him, was the only man in a House full of nonentities and 
mediocrities who would understand his plans for expansion. 
British Imperialism and South African Nationalism, in his 
opinion, should be able to co-operate for a higher aim, the 
unification of a Greater South Africa, 

Much to Hofmeyx's surprise Rhodes came to his side to over- 
throw the Cabinet of the time. He distrusted Rhodes, who had 
been described to him as c a regular Beefsteak John Bull English- 
man full of the exclusive traditions of Oxford'. 

Rhodes had never yet met an Afrikaner of his own social and 
educational standard. His opinion of the Dutch people of the 

[75] 



RHODES OF AFEICA 

Cape was based mainly on casual encounters with farmers and 
diggers in and around Kimberley. Hofmeyr asked him to his 
home. When his carriage had driven him from the centre of the 
town over less than a mile to Camp Street, Rhodes thought that 
he was in the country* His eyes, well-trained in taking in the 
beauties of Nature as well as the noble dignity of old Dutch 
architecture, feasted on the shining whiteness of 'Welgemeend', 
the eighteenth-century ancestral homestead of the Hofmeyr 
family. It led him to think of its owner not as the irresponsible 
agitator described by the English Press, but as the head of an 
old-established family of landowners, an important component of 
the country, who had every right to have a say in its government. 
Looking out from the wide stoep Rhodes was fascinated by the 
almost overwhelming view of the majestic mountains, the sea and 
the green plains of the north over which was spread the dark blue 
roof of the sky. Still more he rejoiced in the noble beauty inside. 
This country possessed a highly artistic tradition of beautiful 
workmanship as was shown by the exquisitely shaped chest of 
drawers, the massive wardrobes, the elegant glass show cases all 
made of the native finely grained stinkwood darkened almost to 
black in the course of centuries, the graceful old Cape silver candle- 
sticks and bowls, the shining copper vessels filled with the flowers 
of the mountains proteas in all shapes and colours, heaths of 
various shades, arum-lilies, and the red blooms of the aloe. 

Rhodes now began to feel that the Cape was more than an 
English colony; it was a country with an individuality, a pro- 
nounced tradition and a culture of its own. 

The two politicians felt their ground carefully and they soon 
discovered the similarity in their ultimate aims: the inevitable 
unification of South Africa. They agreed that the evolutionary 
process could be instigated, led and accomplished by the Cape 
and only by working together with Britain. Hofmeyr had no 
objections to Rhodes' plan of northern expansion of the Cape 
provided that he would assist the Bond in the protection of the 
Cape farmers. 

Unfortunately the plans for close collaboration between these 
two men had to rest for a few years when the blundering policy 
of the English Government and the staggering stupidity of the 
military and administrative authorities in the Cape brought the 

[76] 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

relations between the Dutch and English elements to breaking- 
point. 

In 1877 Britain had annexed the Transvaal, carrying out a 
threat uttered forty years before when some ten thousand Boers 
began their Great Trek from the Cape. The causes of their exodus 
were the insurmountable divergence from the British in all 
political and religious questions, the enforced exercise of liberal 
tendencies towards the Natives and Coloureds at their expense, 
the exclusion of the Dutch in the government of the land of their 
birth and the difference in their mode of living. 

In their new lands, behind the Vaal and behind the Orange 
River, they had started their republics on a patriarchal system. 
Inexperience, their strong individualism and love of independence, 
their hatred for authoritative coercion, made the consolidation 
of their governments difficult. Costly permanent warfare against 
neighbouring Native tribes, the impossibility of collecting taxes, 
the lack of trade-communications and internal political squabbles 
had brought the Transvaal to the verge of bankruptcy and the 
threat of being overrun by the Zulus. 

There remained only one remedy: help from outside. President 
Burgers took up secret negotiations for an alliance with the 
Germans, Belgians and Portuguese. But no European power 
showed any interest. Only Britain was anxiously waiting to step 
in: 

Should the people of the Transvaal Republic consider it advisable 
... to invite H.M. Government to undertake the government of 
that territory . . . the request could not properly or prudently be 
declined. 

The Boers had understood from previous negotiations that 
British help would consist of confederation, with the government 
remaining in their hands. This belief rested on a proclamation in 
the name of the Queen: 

The Transvaal will remain a separate Government with its own 
laws and legislation. It is the wish of Her Most Gracious Majesty 
that it shall enjoy the fullest legislative privileges compatible with 
the circumstances of the country and the intelligence of its people. 

Notwithstanding all promises, the Transvaal was annexed by 
England, in April 1877, its administration was taken over and 

[77] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

the State was deprived of its sovereignty. An Act was passed in 
the Imperial Parliament at the same time c for the union under 
one Government of the South African Colonies and States as 
may agree thereto*. Britain had started to swallow the African 
continent! 

Rhodes in later years attributed all subsequent difficulties with 
the Transvaal to the 'shocking misgovernment by the Imperial 
Commissioner who conducted business on lines of a second-rate 
line regiment'. The position of the Boers became untenable. All 
negotiations concerning the sovereignty of the Transvaal were 
declined by the British Government. The hearts of the Boers 
were filled with hope by the election speeches of Gladstone, 
condemning the oppressive policy of the Tories. Then Gladstone 
took over the government in April 1880. The Boers believed that 
England's Grand Old Man of liberalism would bring them 
justice, freedom and help, but how could they know that 
promises in election speeches and the finest oratory from the 
opposition benches are forgotten when the exigencies of office 
demand it? 

In their desperation, the Boers were now driven to open revolt. 
They had nothing to lose but their lives. In December 1880 they 
declared their independence and proclaimed the South African 
Republic with a provisional government by a Triumvirate headed 
by an elderly farmer, Paul Krager, 

With almost criminal levity high English officers in command 
of the occupation troops neglected military precautions as if they 
were conducting manoeuvres at Aldershot. Within the first weeks 
they had to admit that they were dealing with a formidable enemy 
who was far superior to them in mobility, in tactics on a hilly 
territory, in marksmanship and in endurance. In the first two 
encotmters British detachments were ambushed and almost 
annihilated by the Boers. Mr Gladstone ordered peace negotiations 
to be begun immediately. 

For the period of the negotiations a truce was declared. It was 
broken by an English general. The Boers avenged this breach of 
faith by inflicting a great defeat on the British on Majuba Hill 
which cost the lives of many brave English soldiers, including 
their commander. Such a disaster to her arms and prestige com- 
pelled Britain to conclude an immediate peace even under 
unfavourable conditions. 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

In August 1 88 1, by the Pretoria Convention, complete self- 
government was restored to the Transvaal, though Britain suc- 
ceeded in keeping her thumb on the throat by adding to the 
preamble the harmless-sounding phrase: 'Subject to the suzerainty 
of Her Majesty/ This little clause was to serve for the next twenty 
years as England's noose round the Transvaal's neck. Britain also 
reserved for herself 'the control of the external relations of the 
said State, including the conclusion of treaties 1 * 

A shout of rage echoed throughout Britain: Avenge Majuba! 
And in the Cape Colony, among the English population, the 
shout gathered force until it became a wild roar. 

Rhodes remained comparatively calm. Some years before he 
had said: 

The Dutch are the coming race in South Africa and they must 
have their share in running the country/ 

To accomplish this a reconciliation between the English and 
Afrikaners would have to take place. They all, the Boers in the 
Transvaal and the Afrikaners in the Cape, dreamt, as he did, of 
a united South Africa. So did Mr Gladstone and his Liberals in 
England, but the South African confederation would be some- 
thing diiferent from what he, Cecil Rhodes, had in mind. In, the 
blunders of high British officers in the Transvaal, in the ridiculous 
interference of Whitehall's black-coated politicians, one had seen 
where ignorance over a distance of 6,000 miles could lead and 
one would not be able to expect any understanding, much less 
assistance, when one went to open the road to the North. "One 
has to eliminate the "Imperial factor" *, mused the man who had 
entered the Cape Parliament only a short time before as a fiery 



Within this short time, strengthened by the events in the 
Transvaal and under the charm of the Cape landscape and people, 
Rhodes, the Englishman, the British Imperialist, suddenly felt 
himself to be a South African. His claim of regarding himself as 
a son of the country was met with scorn by the English side who 
looked upon his alliance with the Bond as something akin to 
treason. The Afrikaners considered this turn-about of so rabid 
a Jingo as a clever political somersault by which Rhodes probably 
hoped to land on the Presidential chair of a future South African 
Federation. Only Hofmeyr believed in Rhodes* honest conversion 
after Rhodes, on being taxed in Parliament, had declared openly: 

[79] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

*. . . By the accident of birth I was not born in this country, 
but that is nothing. I have adopted the Colony as my home/ 

Rhodes was now completely convinced that the narrowness 
of the English mind would not allow their following him in his 
flight into the heart of Africa. Only the Afrikaners would under- 
stand him. 

Thus after Majuba, he found his way back to Hofmeyr. Through 
a link with the Bond his political independence would be pre- 
served. This freedom from party fetters was essential for his 
political agility if he was to unlock the North. 

He did not plunge entirely into the nationalistic mentality of 
the Bond extremists. Britain remained for him the Mother of the 
Empire and South Africa her daughter who would set up house 
as soon as she was old enough but without tearing the family 
bonds. When a republican journalist interviewed Rhodes and 
pointed out that they wanted him as the leader of a United South 
Africa provided he agreed that they must be independent of the 
rest of the British Empire, he replied: 

No! You take me for a rogue or a fool. I should be a rogue to 
forfeit my history and traditions, and a fool because I should be 
hated by my own countrymen and distrusted by yours. 

In spite of events in the Transvaal, Hofmeyr still believed that 
South Africa's future depended on a welding of the English and 
Afrikaner people into a nation as part of the British Empire. He 
was convinced that Rhodes did not join in the Englishmen's 
cries of ' Avenge Majuba', though he was afraid that, like other 
Englishmen, he had looked upon the first defeat of the English 
by the Boers as a humiliation. 

Both men looked forward with some apprehension to their 
first talk after the end of the Transvaal war. Without preliminaries 
Hofmeyr began to sound Rhodes: 

'It is an awful pity that the war broke out,* he remarked. 

For a few moments Rhodes looked at him in silence, rubbing 
his chin vehemently with his forefinger. Then he burst out in his 
shrillest descant: 

c No, it is not. . . . No, it is not, it's not. One has quite changed 
one's opinion . . . quite changed one's opinion. It's a good thing 
... a good thing. . . . Has made Englishmen respect Dutchmen 

[80] 



ELIMINATING THE IMPERIAL FACTOR 

and made them respect one another. . . . Quite changed one*s 
opinion. . . / 

Hofmeyr's eyes sparkled behind his spectacles. Slowly he 
replied: 

'Well, when an Englishman can speak like that to a Dutchman, 
they are not far from making common cause with one another/ 

Rhodes was certain of Hofmeyr's reliability. Now he could 
proceed to action. It almost happened that his activities took 
place at the other end of Africa, in Egypt, and that he perished 
in the Sudan at the hands of the "Mad MahdF together with 
General Gordon, at the fall of Khartoum in 1885. 

Rhodes, as a member of a governmental Commission, met 
General Gordon after he had been called to South Africa in 1882 
to pacify and later to administrate rebellious Basutoland. The 
fifty-year-old general, as "Chinese Gordon*, enjoyed great 
popularity in England. His gallant exploits in quelling the Chinese 
Revolution (1860-64), his fearless fight against slave-traders and 
his consolidation of England's power in the Sudan as its Governor- 
General, had aroused the admiration of the English people and 
made him a national hero. 

Here was a "man of action' according to Rhodes' liking: a 
"hero of nerves', an empire-builder, unconventional, full of 
contempt for "solemn plausibilities', driven by his own initiative 
to spread the gospel of Britain's greatness, hard and unyielding 
towards Whitehall's bureaucratic despotism and audacious in 
opposing his own government. He looked up to the general with 
awe. Though a difference of twenty years in age stood between 
them and they were completely opposed in their social and mental 
make-up, a deep friendship linked them immediately. Even their 
differences did nothing to slacken their intimacy. At the end of 
one heated argument Gordon burst out: 

"You always contradict me. I never met such a man for his own 
opinion. You think your views are always right and every one 
else wrong. You are the sort of man who never approves of 
anything unless you have the organising of it yourself/ 

They could not agree on the importance of material goods. 
Gordon was absolutely disinterested in worldly possessions. After 
the successful ending of the Rebellion the Chinese Government 
wished to express its gratitude. They took him to the Peking 

[81] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Palace, led him to a large strong-room filled to the ceiling with 
gold and jewelled treasures, and invited him to take it all. 

*What did you do?' Rhodes inquired, his eyes shining. 

'Refused it, of course. What would you have done? 9 

*I would have taken it and as many more roomfuls as they 
would give me. It is no use for us to have big ideas if we have 
not got the money to carry them out/ 

Nevertheless Rhodes was a man after Gordon's own heart. 
Rhodes, though he admired Gordon as the personification of 
British Imperialism, doubted whether he would be able to work 
in close co-ordination with him. One of the hindrances, he felt, 
was Gordon's strange belief in spiritual influences. Thus he 
needed scarcely any reflection when Gordon one day asked him: 

'What are you going to do after your work is finished here in 
Basutoland?' 

( I have to go back to Kimberley and look after my diamond 
mines/ 

'Stay with me. We can work together/ 

*I have to execute my own plans/ 

'There are very few men in the world to whom I would make 
such an offer . . . very few men, I can tell you; but, of course, 
you mil have your own way/ 

Two years later Gordon had repeated the offer to Rhodes to 
come with him to the Sudan. When Rhodes learnt of the tragic 
end of this brave general who had been captured and beheaded 
by the Mahdi at Khartoum, he sighed: *. . . I wish I had gone with 
Gordon. I would willingly have died with him/ 

Someone asked him if he could possibly have extricated poor 
Gordon from his hopeless position in besieged Khartoum. Rhodes 
smiled. 'Very simple: by "squaring" the Mahdi/ 



[82] 



CHAPTER VI 

THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

rip HE hoofs of eight mules stamped a syncopated rhythm on 
JL the sun-baked road one summer day in the year 1885. Road? 
Roaming herds of elephants in search of water during droughts 
centuries ago, trod out a path. Later missionaries had travelled 
over it on their way north. Traders had used it to reach the land 
of the Bechuana, where they exchanged their shabby products of 
Western civilization for ivory and pelts. This primitive path was 
the only direct link between the Cape Colony and the heart of 
Africa. The hunters called it the 'Missionary Road*. 

The carriage was jolted, shaken and tossed and often threatened 
to overturn. But the ruddy face of its occupant, under a big slouch 
hat, radiated contentment and happiness. 

Cecil John Rhodes, once more, for the third time within three 
years, on his way to Bechuanaland as Her Majesty's Deputy 
Commissioner on a special mission for the Government of the 
Cape Colony, had every reason to be satisfied with himself. At 
the age of thirty-two he had succeeded in all the preliminary plans 
for his great scheme. As chairman of De Beers, a company 
with a capital of a million pounds, he represented a mighty 
financial factor in South Africa's business world. Politically, he 
possessed the coveted instrument on which he could play his 
own tune. 

Between two parliamentary sessions he had been able to hurry 
to Oxford and perform the unique feat for a Member of Parlia- 
ment of concluding his studies and obtaining the degree of a 
Bachelor of Arts and so fulfil one of the ambitions of his 
youth. 

Cecil Rhodes smiled as he leaned back on the hard padding of 
the coach as it rolled across the plains of Bechuanaland. Well 
might he smile. He, Cecil Rhodes, Esq., B.A. (Oxon), M.P., 
former Treasurer of Her Majesty's Government of the Cape 
Colony, now Leader of the Opposition, charged by the Colonial 
Office to act as Her Majesty's Assistant Commissioner, was on his 

[83] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

way to engrave Ms name in the book of the great English Empire- 
builders. . . . 

The scramble for Africa had begun. Everything now depended 
on developments in the Cape and the adjoining territories whether 
his plans would be realized within a short time. Cecil Rhodes was 
in a hurry. The beat of his leaking heart, the metronome of his 
actions, drove him to greater speed. Lately his thoughts had 
turned more than ever to the vast unexplored countries in the 
North. Rumours of gold-findings in the land of the Bechuana and 
the Matabele persisted. Was this Ophir, the Land of Gold, whence 
was brought to King Solomon the gold, rare wood, precious 
stones, silver, ivory, spices and apes and peacocks as was written 
in the Book of Kings? 

Suddenly there had appeared a threat that the jumping-board 
for Ms dive into the vastness of Africa's interior would be drawn 
from under his very feet. Bechuanaland, the door to the North, 
from where he had dreamt to start painting the land red, British 
red; Bechuanaland, the gate wMch could shut off the Cape from 
the riches lying in wait for him; Bechuanaland, the 'Suez Canal of 
the trade of the Cape 3 , was now in danger of being lost for ever. 

Since 1881 a state of anarchy had existed in the border strip of 
Bechuanaland along the western frontier of the TransvaaL The 
way to the interior, along the 'Missionary Road', lay through tMs 
fertile land. Already in Livingstone's time, the Boers had claimed 
control over tMs road. Because the greater part of Bechuanaland 
consisted of the Kalahari desert and other wide arid stretches, 
tMs fertile, well-watered area had always been the battle-ground 
of land-hungry tribes. Two groups of cMefs had been on the 
war-path since 1881. The one part appealed in vain for British 
protection and was ousted by its opponents with the help of Boer 
farmers who had recently settled in the territory. Volunteers 
streamed in from the Transvaal as well as from the diamond 
fields, who, attracted by the promise, given by the cMef, of 
generously sized farms conquered from Ms enemy, fought side 
by side with the Boers. Among these volunteers there figured a 
great number of shady elements, lawless fellows under the leade^ 
sMp of 'Scotty' Smith, an almost legendary figure of the Robin 
Hood type, supposed to have been an officer in the Guards and 
descended from a noble family. 

[843 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

The British Government had not yet fully digested the 'shame 
of Majuba* or the expenses of the Zulu wars and thus declined 
intervention unless the Cape Colony was willing to participate 
in the costs and provide actual military assistance. Whitehall was 
not in the least perturbed when the 'ruffianly freebooters' pro- 
claimed the conquered territory as independent states, the 
Republics of Stellaland and Goshenland. 

Rhodes immediately scented the danger that the Transvaal was 
hiding behind these freebooter republics, with the intention of 
barring the Cape Colony's access to the North. He succeeded in 
1882 in having a commission sent to Bechuanaland, including 
himself as one of its members. He was able to persuade one of 
the fighting big chiefs to cede the whole country to the Cape by 
the promise of help against the Boer freebooters. Having just 
finished a campaign against the Basutos at the cost of 3 million, 
the Cape Government, however, could not be persuaded to such 
expensive adventures, especially since unfavourable conditions in 
the Colony had caused a 'retrenchment mania*. A bank crisis had 
followed a slump on the diamond market; phylloxera had ruined 
the Cape wine export; smallpox, particularly in the Kimberley 
district, obstinately diagnosed by Dr Jameson as harmless skin- 
trouble in order to please the mine-owners, had decimated the 
Natives* 

Disgusted, Rhodes returned to Kimberley from his first mission 
to Bechuanaland. His own affairs were in urgent need of his 
presence. His bank was becoming worried about Ms high over- 
draft. Rhodes did not care. His thoughts were concerned only 
with saving Bechuanaland and providing free access to the North 
for the Cape. He was sick. This time something more than his old 
heart-trouble and the usual camp-fever gnawed at his system 
Dr Jameson advised him to stay at home. But he must, even if 
he had to crawl, go to Cape Town and tell those blockheads of 
Parliamentarians that the whole future of the Cape was at stake 
in Bechuanaland. Could they not see, those pothouse politicians, 
that one was standing before the most momentous question ever 
faced by this country: whether the Cape Colony was to be limited 
to its present boundaries or whether it was to become the domi- 
nant power on which the future Federation of South Africa would 
be built and from where civilization would spread over the entire 
interior? 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

There was Paul Krager behind those filibustering republicans, 
and nobody saw that he was out to strangle the Cape by barring 
her way to the open spaces of the North. . . . These clever Boers 
knew full well why they had chosen that sly, tenacious, shrewd 
old mule of a zealot as President. He was showing an admirable 
master hand in his daring policy. ... If one looked in comparison 
at Whitehall's blindfold passiveness and negative parochialism 
one could scream, one could, . , . They could not see in Cape Town 
through the haze over Table Mountain that this narrow strip with 
the Missionary Road to the North was the bottle-neck of South 
Africa. Whoever possessed Bechuanaland would be master in 
South Africa. , . . Some of those mealy-mouthed old women of 
politicians who object to bringing the Natives under our control 
by taking their land, will probably say: 4 How improper! How 
immoral!* I do not have these scruples. ... I believe that the 
Natives are bound gradually to come under the control of the 
white man. . . . 

Still suffering from his indisposition, Rhodes, once in Parlia- 
ment, immediately caught Mr Speaker's eye. He had felt too sick 
to prepare his speech and thus spoke without notes. His words 
spluttered out in cascades. 

When he noticed that his speech was meeting with an icy 
reception, Rhodes gave warning, in order to please the Bond 
members, of a threatening Imperial interference in Bechuanaland. 
No sign of any emotion showed on Hofmeyr's poker face. His 
followers lolled in their seats, bored. Suddenly life came into them. 
Attentively they leaned forward. Were they hearing right? Was 
this indeed the Member for Barkly West speaking, that arch- 
Jingo? They had never really trusted his assertion of friendship 
for the Dutch. But *Onse Jat? had told them that his friend Rhodes 
was a ware en opregte vriend van Afrikaner dom. And their leier, such 
a learned man, ought to know better than they, simple ignorant 
farmers from the platteland* They straightened themselves in their 
seats, and some held their cupped hands to their ears. Not a word 
did they want to miss. 

Rhodes braced himself for an ultimate effort. He stepped back 
a few paces to lean against the wall. Defiantly he sank both fists 
deep into the pockets of his jacket. His face was flushed crimson. 
His faltering falsetto voice indicated that though his emotions 
were carrying him away, he was choosing his words carefully: 

[86] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

* We know that all sorts of "fuel* * are said to be In Bechuanaland 
and Imperial interference in Bechuanaland would be one source 
of fuel. . . . We want to get rid of the "Imperial Factor " in this 
question, and to deal with it ourselves. . . .* 

The English members of the House looked stunned. Almost 
open treachery to Her Maj esty *s flag, they thought. What a peculiar 
fellow, this Rhodes! Hofmeyr shook his head. No! Bechuanaland 
belonged by rights to the Boers. The English were surely not 
interested in being involved in a probably expensive squabble with 
filibusters and Natives for the sake of a sandy waste. What non- 
sense was this fellow talking: hundreds of thousands of pounds of 
trade from the Cape to the Interior via the "Missionary Road'! 
Rubbish! Probably a few Jewish smousers (hawkers) went there 
occasionally, cheating the Kaffirs with rusty Napoleonic muskets, 
beads and Manchester goods and bringing home some ivory, pelts 
and similar odds and ends. 

Rhodes became aware that the English in Cape Town were 
ostracizing him. In several towns of the Colony he was burnt in 
effigy. 

Now he stood alone. He did not give up hope. Perhaps, he 
mused, Bechuanaland could only be saved by 'Grandma 5 , and one 
would have, after all, to rdy on the Imperial Factor'. In a letter 
to Whitehall he implored the British Government to annex 
Bechuanaland. It was decided to follow his advice provided that 
the Cape Colony bore half of the expenses involved. The Cape 
Government declined the offer and from Whitehall there came 
a short note to Rhodes that they considered the incident closed. 

The year 1884 saw a complete change in the whole situation. 
Germany unwittingly came to Rhodes* aid. The black-white-and- 
red flag was suddenly, and much to Britain's consternation, 
hoisted on the African continent. 

Bismarck had misjudged colonial possessions as expensive 
hobbies, but with Germany's progressing industrialization and 
a large population increasing menacingly, the question of absorp- 
tion of her surplus in men and manufactured goods became acute, 
He now realized that other countries kept colonies as dumping- 
places for just such a purpose. 

Another lesson the German Chancellor learnt from his own 
private estate: he had erected a krge paper mill and a distillery on 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

his Varzin farm. For ten years, in the boom after the Franco- 
Prussian War, business flourished. Then the world-slump of the 
.eighties affected the sale of his paper and Schnaps. Herr Luederitz, 
a merchant of Bremen, advised him to try to export. Africa was a 
gobd market. With cheap liquor one could buy the whole of the 
continent, but, of course, die verdammten ULnglander would not let 
German competitors even pick crumbs from under their table. 
How different it would be if Germany had colonies of her own. 
There was a tremendous stretch of land, for instance, reaching 
from the south-west coast of Africa inland for thousands of miles 
right into the heart of the continent. Britain had occupied only 
a tiny spot on this south-west coast. Here was a place to start 
with German colonies. If the Government stood behind him, 
Herr Luederitz would himself hoist the flag of the Fatherland 
there. 

Bismarck gave his blessings and along with it a shipload of his 
Varzin Scbnaps. He had caught Gladstone, the Foreign Office, the 
Colonial Office and the British Ambassador not only napping but 
sound asleep. Hoping still" to hook England into his net of 
alliances, he did not want to cause any discord over some sun- 
baked African sand-dunes. His inquiries through the British 
Ambassador whether Britain objected to a German settlement on 
the African south-west coast remained unanswered. Whitehall's 
inquiry in Cape Town of what should be done was accidentally 
pigeon-holed and did not come up for discussion for months. 
They were busy once again in Cape Town forming a new Cabinet. 
Rhodes became Treasurer in the new Ministry. Thus he, just as 
the entire British and Cape Governments, can be held responsible 
for having missed this chance of stopping Germany from obtain- 
ing a foot-hold on African soil. 

When they finally woke up it was too late. Luederite had settled 
on the Bay of Angra Pequena and this land, only 150 miles from 
the frontier of the Cape Colony, was declared German territory. 
Rhodes realized fully that only the quickest action could forestall 
further 'damage. 'We must have Damaraland/ became his daily 
prayer. His colleagues, occupied with ridiculous petty party 
matters, did not show the slightest interest. 

Since it seemed so easy to acquire colonies, Bismarck's appetite 
for *a place in the sun* grew. A few months kter Germany 
formally annexed Damaraland and Namaqualand with a coast-line 

[88] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

of 930 miles and a total area of 520,000 square miles, a terri- 
tory larger than Germany itself. Before Britain had time to 
recover from the shock the Germans also acquired territory in 
the Cameroons and Togoland, and established themselves in 
Zanzibar in East Africa. The French, the Belgians and the 
Portuguese were also pushing forward, each nation driving on in 
a mad race to cut for themselves as large a chunk of the African 
body as they could. They had no use for these swampy, fever- 
invested lands. No one else should have them that was the only 
aim in their colonizing plans. 

In Downing Street they were immediately worried by German 
penetration into the South. African sphere and the threat of their 
joining hands with the Boers. Only Bechuanaland separated the 
German colony from the Transvaal. 

Rhodes used the German bogy with great skill. Knowing 
how deeply Hofmeyr hated the Germans, he emphasized that 
Germany would no doubt employ her Bismarcldan Macbtpolitik 
by absorbing the Transvaal. And what barred Germany's way? 
Bechuanaland! 

England was now wide awake to the danger of an attempted 
strangulation by Germany in Africa. Gladstone was no colonial 
enthusiast. But the Grand Old Man, always with his ear to the 
ground, heard the voices of the voters protesting against his 
'policy of scuttling*. This time he would have to be firm. A 
torpedo-boat sent to the Zulu coast drove away the Germans, 
who were just engaged in hoisting their flag there. 

Gladstone was not entirely free to act. The year 1884 was 
bringing the British Government galling humiliations at home 
and abroad. Gladstone and his colleagues were accused almost of 
murder by having delayed the relief expedition to Khartoum to 
save Gordon. The German successes in Africa; the failure of an 
Anglo-Portuguese treaty by a combined German-French opposi- 
tion; the danger of war with Russia over her encroachment in 
Afghanistan; Germany's blackmail tactics of threatening to take 
France's side against Britain in the Egyptian dispute; all these fail- 
ures had made the external position of Britain extremely difficult. 

In order to pacify Germany, Gladstone had to agree to a 
congress in Berlin to settle all colonial questions* 

Something new in diplomatic terminology and consequently 
in practical appliance was introduced with the elastic phrase ' 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

of influence' which in the near future Colonial Powers were to 
use for the exploitation of Africa. One could not in considera- 
tion of the Liberal voters and, of course, one's own Christian 
conscience leave the Natives out altogether in a document of 
about 60,000 words. Two hundred words of hypocrisy, bigotry 
and lies were devoted to them, such as 'watch over the preserva- 
tion of the native races, and the amelioration of the moral and 
material conditions of their existence ... to educate the Natives, 
and lead them to understand and appreciate the advantages of 

civilization*. 

King Leopold of the Belgians, Cecil Rhodes, Dr Peters, Herr 
von Wissmann and Major Pinto must have had a good laugh 
when they read this document. 

Gladstone, certainly, was not in a hilarious mood. This 
Bechuanaland affair which he had hoped would settle itself 
somehow was a heavy load on his mind. The German encircle- 
ment of Britain's African possessions was aggravated by an 
increased unrest among the Boers who were agitating for a 
complete alteration of the Pretoria Convention of 1881. With 
displeasure the gentlemen at Whitehall saw among the Boer 
delegation in London Commandant Smit, the victor of Majuba, 
and the Reverend S. J. Du Toit, the militant Republican agitator 
from the Cape, now in the service of the Transvaal. 

The Boers succeeded in obtaining a few amendments to the 
treaty. Some boundaries were corrected; they were now allowed 
to call their state "The South African Republic'; its internal 
administration was to be free of British supervision. But they 
were not given the freedom to expand. Treaties with Native tribes 
were still to require approval from London. 

In their main demand, the abolition of British suzerainty as 
laid down in the preamble of the Pretoria Convention, the Boers 
did not succeed. True, in the new agreement the word suzerainty 
was not mentioned at all. With diplomatic shrewdness the British 
Government drcumnavigated the delicate subject with the simple- 
sounding statement in a new preamble that *the following Articles 
of a new Convention . . . shall ... be substituted for the articles 
embodied in the Convention of 3 August 1881'. 

The Boers did not learn until later to their consternation that 
they had been duped by legal trickery: the old preamble with the 
suzerainty clause was not suspended by the new Convention. 

[90] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

At Downing Street they were highly satisfied with this achieve- 
ment. Yet their peace of mind was to be seriously disturbed during 
the next few weeks* President Kruger and Ms delegation, before 
returning home, had toured the European capitals. In Holland 
he had concluded contracts for a railway-line from Delagoa Bay 
in Portuguese East Africa to Pretoria. Was he out to eliminate the 
British ports in South Africa and the railway planned from there 
to Pretoria for the transport of all Transvaal shipments? It would 
mean a considerable loss in harbour dues, customs fees and later 
in railway costs, besides having to forgo control of what was 
going into and coming out of the country. 

Still more disheartening was the news of Kruger's reception 
in Berlin. There Bismarck, speaking at a banquet in honour of 
Kruger, emphasized Germanic kinship between the two nations 
and Germany's interest in the welfare of their kinsfolk in Africa. 
He ended with the assurance that Germany 'will take no steps in 
Africa except hand in hand with the Boer people*. 

It did not need further incentive to drive Britain to action. 
Bechuanaland had to be saved from serving Germany's advance 
to join hands with the Transvaal. The filibuster republics would 
have to disappear and the whole territory be declared British. To 
execute this delicate mission Whitehall chose the Reverend John 
Mackenzie, a missionary and successor to Livingstone. A worse 
selection could hardly have been made. The reverend gentleman 
believed that his ability in dealing with Boers and Natives alike, 
after his many years in Africa, was infallible. In his heart there 
burnt with equal strength the aggressive love of a Jingo for 
Britain and a contemptuous hatred of the Boers. His tactics were 
dictated by the Aborigines Protection Society in London. This 
society, with all its well-intentioned members of pious old 
dowagers, ambitious social climbers, liberal-minded citizens, fiery 
gospel propagandists, bazaar-organizing busy-bodies and clergy- 
men full of self-importance, had ktely become a political instru- 
ment intent on influencing the government in its colonial policy. 
Propaganda from their headquarters in Exeter Hall had persuaded 
Downing Street not to let the Natives in Bechuanaland be 
enslaved either by the Transvaal Boers or by the Afrikaner Bond 
in the Cape Colony who had as little to recommend them. 

As the main requisite for his mission, the Reverend Mr Mac- 
kenzie packed a good stock of Union Jacks into his trunk. At 

[9*] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

first his work seemed to go smoothly. He came to an under- 
standing with Van Niekerk, the 'President of the United States 
of Stellaland*, who was willing to accept Her Majesty's protection 
for his burghers. Out of gratitude for such docility Mackenzie 
nominated him Assistant Commissioner and agreed that the 
existing government in SteHaland should continue. Behind Van 
Niekerk's back he obtained from the Native chiefs the cession to 
Britain of the entire Bechuanaland territory, including also Stella- 
land. Van Niekerk protested vehemently. Mackenzie threw the 
'President' into jail. When complete anarchy followed, the 
reverend gentleman went to his trunk, unfurled the biggest 
Union Jack, hoisted it and declared the territory annexed by 
Her Britannic Majesty. 

In Goshenland, Mackenzie received a still less cordial welcome. 
The President, Gey van Pittius, took no notice of the Queen's 
emissary though his attitude left little doubt but that he would 
resist by force any attempt at British interference. Mackenzie was 
not given a chance even to unlock his trunk to take out one of 
his flags. Frantically he implored the Governor in Cape Town to 
send him at least 200 mounted police. The Government of the 
Cape, encouraged by the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, and 
the majority of the English parties, had come to the conclusion 
that perhaps Rhodes had after all been right in his warning against 
bringing in the 'Imperial Factor'. The combination of Downing 
Street and Exeter Hall was bound to fail and would probably 
result finally in the seizure of Bechuanaland by the Germans or 
the Boers. Hofmeyr was still adamant in his contention that this 
territory belonged to the Transvaal. 

Rhodes did not tire of trying to convince everyone that the 
Cape Colony should take Bechuanaland under its protection. 
Mackenzie was recalled. It was rather strange, many thought, that 
the Governor should ask Mr Rhodes, now Leader of the Opposi- 
tion, to go to Bechuanaland as Commissioner to replace Mac- 
kenzie. Sir Hercules Robinson had warned him: 

*Oh, you can go up, but I can give you no force to back you 
up. You must use your own judgments/ 

*WM you allow me to do what I like?' 

*Yes, but if you make a mess of it, I shan't back you up/ 

'That is good enough for me.' 

Within a few days Rhodes was on his way. It had become 

[9*1 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

obvious to Mm that the Stellalanders were not playing at politics, 
revolutions or wars out of a love for adventure. They were harm- 
less Boer farmers whose only interest lay in gaining security for 
their property. After Mackenzie had! threatened them with expro- 
priation of their farms, they felt that they could no longer trust 
any Englishman. 

Rhodes had learnt from mixing with the Cape Dutch farmers 
of the Bond how to overcome their racial prejudice by the sheer 
vehemence of his personality. Whenever his friends heard that 
Rhodes had made a new conquest of an opponent, their first 
question was always 'How much?' Lately Rhodes had been able 
to answer several times: 

"No, not "squared", you're quite wrong just on the personall' 

Rhodes was determined to put the whole force of his formid- 
able personality into play in Stellaland. Van Niekerk, who had 
been set free just before Rhodes' arrival, received him full of 
distrust and was not at all disposed to enter into negotiations. 
Yet, like all the Stellalanders, he was much impressed by Rhodes' 
personal courage in coming to their camp alone and unarmed. 
He referred him to de la Rey, another of their leaders. With wild 
eyes, fumbling with his gun, de la Rey refused even to listen to 
Rhodes and shouted 'Blood must flow!* 

Rhodes, without blinking, looked at the excited man with a 
smile, his natural boyish smile, and answered calmly: 

*No, give me my breakfast first, and then we can talk about 
blood/ 

De la Rey was embarrassed at having to be reminded by a 
verdomde Engelsman of the traditional Boer duties of a host. He 
took Rhodes to his farm-house. Rhodes stayed there for a week 
and became godfather to his grandchild. 

After that the negotiations with the Stellalanders went easily 
enough. Rhodes promised them that their land-titles would be 
recognized if they agreed that Stellaland remained a British Pro- 
tectorate until it was finally annexed by the Cape Colony* Rhodes 
pocketed this agreement with relief and set out for Goshenland. 

There he found an atmosphere of even greater and more 
bellicose animosity than in Stellaland. The Goshenites, again at 
war with the Natives, had just occupied a large slice of land 
belonging to a tribe protected by Britain. Van Pittius, calling him- 
self "Administrator of Goshenland', gave Rhodes to understand 

[93] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

that he considered him a nuisance. After Rhodes had refused to 
recognize him in any official capacity he paid back in the same 
coin by referring to 'Mr C J. Rhodes, calling himself Commis- 
sioner for Bechuanaland*. 

*A pretty kettle offish/ muttered Rhodes. This hardened Boer, 
he had to confess, was immune to treatment 'on the personal*. 
Van Pittius ignored Rhodes. He was not moved in the least when 
Rhodes pointed out that by fighting against Natives who stood 
under British protection they were waging war against the 
Queen. 

Such obstinacy could easily be traced to outside influence. As 
Rhodes had feared, Kruger was the force behind it, by his nomina- 
tion of General Piet Joubert, the Boer Commandant-General, as 
'Commissioner of the Western Border' with the, function of 
'preserving order*. Before Rhodes had an opportunity to approach 
him, there appeared on the scene the Reverend Mr Du Toit, 
freshly returned with Kruger from London and the European 
capitals. 

He hated Rhodes with all the fervour of a man whose ambitions 
had been shattered. He held Rhodes responsible for his having 
been ousted by Hofmeyr from the leadership of the Bond he 
who had been its founder, the apostle of an Afrikaans renaissance 
and the herald of Afrikaner republicanism in the Cape. 

Rhodes must not succeed. Rhodes must be humiliated; and with 
him the whole crowd of Cape intriguers and the whole English 
race. Up went the Vierkleur flag of the Transvaal in Goshenland. 

President Kruger knew nothing of this temperamental outburst 
of his Inspector of Education. He had been waiting for several 
days for a reply from Whitehall to his telegraphed suggestion 
that the Transvaal should take over Britain's responsibilities in 
Goshenland. When no answer came on the tenth day, seeing that 
Du Toifs hoisting of the Vierkleur had presented him with a 
fait accompli, Kruger proclaimed the provisional annexation of 
Stellaland and Goshenland by the Transvaal 'in the interest of 
humanity and for the protection of order and safety, subject to 
the consent of the British Government according to the London 
convention*. 

Rhodes found this territory much too hot for him and left 
quickly for the Cape, the second time within two years that he 

[94] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

returned from Bechuanaland in despair. His scheme of operating 
without the 'Imperial Factor* had failed utterly. Only one possi- 
bility remained: Bechuanaland would have to be saved by 
'Grandma'; by her armed forces if necessary. 

Though still a novice at the game, Rhodes showed a master 
haiid in creating in the Cape a popular storm of wild wrath 
against the scheming Transvaalers who, as an instrument ' of 
Bismarck, wanted to throttle the Cape. Hofmeyr and the Bond 
were caught by the bogy of Germany. Patriotic fervour in the 
Cape's summer heat, cleverly fanned by Rhodes, reached the 
boiling-point of wild chauvinism. 

In England the wave of indignation splashed high in the 
columns of the Tory papers, who reminded their readers that 
Majuba had not yet been avenged. Mr Joseph Chamberlain 
pleaded vehemently in the Cabinet for an expeditionary force to 
end the Bechuanaland trouble once and for alL Gladstone was 
anxious to avoid war if possible. At last, however, the Governor 
of the Cape, Sir Hercules Robinson, declared that military inter- 
ference was absolutely necessary. Whitehall decided to send out 
to Bechuanaland General Sir Charles Warren and a force of about 
4,000 men with orders to clear Bechuanaland and, in case of 
interference from the Transvaal, to go to war. 

At the end of December 1884 General Warren and his army, 
including Cape volunteers and, to the great disgust of all 
Afrikaners, a contingent of Cape Coloureds, set out on the 
war-path. 

Kruger in his sagacity withdrew his proclamation. Thus there 
no longer existed a reason for armed interference. 

Hofmeyr dropped a confidential warning to Rhodes about the 
certainty of open armed revolt of the Cape Dutch to aid the Boers 
in the case of British aggression. London, however, remained 
adamant in her decision. 

Rhodes, now that the assistance by an armed force was no 
longer needed and would only cause new trouble, cursed the 
moment when he had called for the 'Imperial Factor'. 

Warren was undoubtedly a good and gallant soldier. His 
mission, however, required political and diplomatic aptitude and 
tact. These civilian qualities the General did not possess. 

After his arrival he had asked Rhodes to collaborate with him 
by going to Stellaland and keeping Van Niekerk in good humour 

[95] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

during the operation of ejecting the Goshenites. Since Warren 
had confirmed Rhode$' agreement with Stellaknd, Van Niekerk's 
men remained quiet and declared that they would not interfere 
with Warren's mission* 

As soon as Warren came to Stellaland, however, he repealed 
Rhodes' agreement by pretending that he had signed the telegram 
of confirmation without reading it. Rhodes, during his stay in 
Stellaland, had assured the Stellalanders by a solemn promise in 
his capacity as Her Majesty's Assistant Commissioner that their 
land-titles would be recognized. Warren, ignoring this binding 
agreement, ordered the restitution to the Natives of their land. 

When Rhodes remonstrated about such breach of faith and 
the flat abnegation of Ms authority, Warren mounted the high 
horse and asked for strict subordination to his orders. When 
Rhodes offered to resign, Sir Hercules Robinson implored him 
to remain at his post as his confidential representative. Rhodes, 
fearing that Warren would commit further blunders, agreed to 
stay. To ^restore the General's amour-propre* Rhodes declared 
himself ready to 'act in direct subordination to him' instead of to 
Sir Hercules, Rhodes even swallowed the bitter pill of having to 
endure the sight of Mackenzie who had just published in a widely 
read English magazine heavy personal attacks against him. 
Warren had parried the thrust of the * Colonial' against the 
"Imperial Factor' by calling back Mackenzie as his Assistant 
Commissioner. There was now a close union between the belli- 
cose martinet, the exponent of Jingoism, and the pious Boer-hater 
whom Exeter Hall provided with all the moral ammunition of 
chauvinistic fervour he needed for combating the Boers, the 
Bond, the Colonials and, particularly, Cecil Rhodes. 

Warren had arrived in South Africa with a closed mind of 
animosity against Rhodes, the result of official and public slander- 
ing of Rhodes as an anti-British and pro-Boer opportunist who 
for his own political and financial benefit had stepped down to 
the lowest form of disloyalty by taking the side of filibustering 
enemies of Her Majesty. 

Lord Randolph Churchill had expressed the general contempt 
in which Rhodes was held la England when he inquired in a 
debate in the House of Commons after Rhodes' nomination as 
Assistant Commissioner, why 'some cipher' had been chosen to 
replace the Reverend Mr Mackenzie in Bechuanaknd. From the 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

Ministerial benches came the lukewarm reply in defence of 
Rhodes that he was *a gentleman of some distinction who had 
always shown himself to be a great sympathizer with the native 
races'. 

These opinions about his disloyalty and the fact that he was 
Regarded as a most horrid individual* at home, affected Rhodes 
deeply. He felt himself misunderstood. When he had demanded 
the ^elimination of the Imperial Factor* he had not referred to the 
British flag or, in other words, to the idea of the British Empire 
about which his romantic ideas had changed but little since his 
early Oxford days. His scruples concerned only the unelastic, red- 
taped stubbornness with which the Colonial Office conducted its 
policy, scruples shared in the Cape by English and Dutch alike. 

Warren set out from England with the intention of strengthen- 
ing the "Imperial Factor' in South Africa by eliminating Kruger's 
attempt at a hegemony of the Boers in South Africa and by 
breaking the spirit of colonialism as defined by Rhodes. 

Besides his political bias against Rhodes, Warren was jealous 
of the more gifted man. As an ambitious soldier, Warren had set 
himself to gain political successes which might lead to his nomina- 
tion for the governorship of Bechuanaland or even, perhaps, to 
sit one day in Cape Town as Governor of the Cape Colony and 
Her Majesty's High Commissioner for South Africa. He saw in 
Rhodes a danger which would rob him of the fame he expected 
as saviour of Bechuanaland. 

Before Warren could set his military machine into motion, 
President Kruger, in order to remove even the faintest reason for 
armed interference, went to Goshenland and warned the people 
of the futility of resisting Warren's expedition by force. He 
invited Warren to a friendly talk in an unofficial conference on 
the border of the Transvaal and the Cape. 

Though it had been agreed that both parties should be accom- 
panied only by a personal escort, Warren proceeded to the 
meeting with a military detachment. Kruger felt hurt by this 
tactless demonstration of distrust. The President's anger increased 
when he learnt of the presence of the Reverend Mr Mackenzie, 
whom he held responsible more than Rhodes for cutting him off 
from the North. The inclusion of a forceful antagonist of the 
Boers was countered by Kruger when he set before his EngUsh 

[97] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

guests the Reverend Mr Du Toit. There faced each other these two 
professed heralds of Christian love as documented in the Sermon 
on the Mount/ yet both ever ready in their blind chauvinistic 
hatred to unfold the flag of war against whosoever opposed their 
ideas of nationalism. 

Many people came away from their first meeting with Kruger 
with the impression of having looked upon the stone-monument 
of a prehistoric man. The monumentality of his appearance made 
one forget his grotesque ugliness. Each single feature of his face 
seemed too small in proportion to his bulky body, six feet in 
height and more than 200 pounds in weight. 

One could not help being reminded of the Prophets of the Old 
Testament. People have compared him to a composite picture of 
Abraham Lincoln and Oliver Cromwell, with something of John 
Bright around the eyes and Benjamin Franklin's mouth. Others 
were reminded of Ulysses, General Bliicher, Bismarck. One 
visitor confessed that his first thought on seeing Kruger was, 
without blasphemy, 'That's Jehovah Himself!' 

The cartoonists enjoyed themselves in making fun of the long 
fringe of grey beard framing the dark-skinned face, with the 
clean-shaven upper lip; the thick irregular brows above a pair of 
dark, almost bkck eyes, flashing fearless eyes, whose smallness 
and the sagacity which spoke from them recalled those of an 
elephant; the large broad nose from which a system of deep 
furrows spread criss-Cross over the whole face; the crude flat ears 
in contrast to the finely shapen mouth which was mostly closed 
tightly and opened only occasionally for a short benevolent smile 
warming up the ugly granite face with the beautifying rays of 
human sympathy. The cartoonists could not indicate in their 
distorted portraits, the commanding power over men of his 
sonorous bass voice. This voice captivated friend and foe. Simple 
Boers admitted that to hear Oom Paul scold an audience terrified 
them as if the Lord were speaking through his mouth. 

No one who came in contact with him could fail to recognize 
the dignity and nobility of his personality. There emanated from 
him an almost hypnotic influence, making strangers and old 
friends alike feel his magnetic power and strength. 

The moral code of his life did not come to him by the easy way 
of taking it over from father, teacher or preacher. As a mature 

[98] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

married man, more than thirty years old, he retired for many days 
into the solitude of the mountains and there battled with his God 
for the purification of his conscience and the peace of his soul* 
He came back a new man, blindly devoted to the tenets of the 
strict Puritan Calvinistic doctrines of the Dopper Church. 

In his faith he refused to compromise or exercise tolerance. 
Since his religiosity directed his private and public life with equal 
severity, his political views often contrasted amazingly with the 
modern outlook. His adversaries maintained that he looked upon 
conditions of the nineteenth century through slits; that he repre- 
sented the anachronism of a seventeenth-century Calvinist in the 
machine-age; that he applied the intolerant Mosaic eye-for-an- 
eye-tooth-for-a-tooth laws as his policy against the Machiavellian 
diplomacy of fin-de-stick politics; that he adhered too strictly to 
his self-chosen motto *Wtes getrou, maar vertrou niemand* be 
trustworthy but trust no one. 

Among the pioneers who, after having conquered the perils of 
a three-year trek, had settled in the country beyond the River Vaal 
was the father of eleven-year-old Paul Kruger, and his family. As 
a boy of twelve Paul had already had to take his stand, with a rifle 
in his hand, fighting with his elders against the Natives and 
shooting lions and elephants. There remained no time for learning 
out of books. What he had to know in order to read the Bible, as 
well as a little writing, was taught to him by his mother* These 
pious people believed that all human knowledge was contained 
in the Good Book. Further knowledge would only lead to 
disbelief. 

Next to the duty to his God came Kruger's determination to 
preserve the personal independence of his people and the freedom 
of their country. The ardent nationalism of the Boers was not an 
artificial political instrument of chauvinistic imperialism like its 
European version. The Boers considered themselves the masters 
of the land for which they had paid with their own sweat and 
blood, from which they had wrested every single corn-cob, for 
which they still had to endure cruel hardships and privations. 

Their patriotism had nothing in common with the abstract 
nationalism with which governments intoxicate the masses in 
order to make them forget that their country really belongs to the 
privileged few and that they axe only tenants there. Every single 
Boer realized that he and his brothers were the owners of their 

[99] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



country; that the soil on which he worked was his own, his in- 
disputable property, and that the whole country was owned in the 
same way by other free burghers and by no one else. His patriotism 
was concrete; his own soil was his fatherland. When he was called 
upon to defend his country, he took Ms own rifle, mounted his 
own horse and fought for the sanctity of his own home, the safety 
of his own family, the protection of his own property. The State 
to him was not a political conception enforced on him, but a 
practical co-operative society for mutual benefit. His nationalism 
was not directed against any other country but was the expression 
of his pride in his freedom, pride in Ms soil, pride in Ms personal 
acMevements against odds. 

Boers always had large families- Kruger's cMldren numbered 
sixteen. To perpetuate the feudal system a father had to provide 
sufficient land to be divided among Ms numerous sons. The time 
had come when their own country no longer had sufficient fertile 
land for their rapidly increasing numbers. Expansion beyond their 
border became a necessity. There they would find sufficient and 
good pastures. That it belonged to the Natives caused them no 
scruples. They did not consider the Natives the lawful owners of 
this land since most of the tribes had come down from Central 
Africa and had taken it from the original inhabitants, the Hotten- 
tots. They identified the Native as the 'Son of Ham' who according 
to the Bible was cursed: *a servant of servants shall he be unto Ms 
brethren*. Thus the Boers felt themselves justified in considering 
these Sons of Ham as their 'hewers of wood and carriers of 
water*. 

Kruger's policy of trying to expand the Transvaal was thus 
founded on the conceptions traditional to the Boers. Opposition 
to tMs necessity of expansion was considered as wilfully aimed at 
the extinction of the Boers. Britain had tried once already to 
strangle them. Now, by cutting them off from access to the rich 
pastures of the North and encircling them from all sides, the 
death-sentence had been pronounced. 

Sitting at the conference table, Ms eyes closed, Kruger was 
playing with a ring. With difficulty he removed it from Ms finger, 
passed it to Warren and pointed to the inscription: 'Take courage, 
your cause is just and must triumph in the end/ The inner side 
bore the figures 6,591: 587, indicating the results of a plebiscite 
in the Transvaal against British rule in 1877. The ring had been 

[100] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

presented to Kruger anonymously by c an English friend of the 
Boers' during his visit to London in 1878. 

Gesticulating menacingly with his pipe, Kruger shouted at the 
stiff English general opposite him, * You are putting a ring fence 
round me!' And referring to the London Convention he said with 
a bitter smile, 'The Boers feel like a man whose clothing has been 
taken away from him and then restored to him without his watch 
and purse/ 

Warren was scarcely listening to Kruger's complaints. When 
Kruger continued to plead, he hissed at him, *To find people 
standing on the ground and insisting on their claims is to me 
simply an act of rebellion/ 

Warren, though he did not take a very active part in the 
negotiations, took care to prevent Rhodes from usurping the 
leadership. Rhodes kept in the background as he first wanted to 
study the old man. Kruger appealed to him as a *man of action'. 
Were they not both filled with the same ideas, driving, at the same 
aim, though each for his own country? His 'greatness in simplicity 
and simplicity in greatness' made a deep impression on Rhodes. 
The longer he watched the old man struggling to find justice for 
his Boers by crushing the icy indifference of this haughty English- 
man Warren, the more his sympathy grew for Kruger. 

I began to acquire my admiration for Oom Paul, for had he not 
conceived the noble scheme from his point of view, of seizing the 
interior, of stretching his Republic across to Walfish Bay, of making 
the Cape Colony hidebound, and of ultimately seizing Delagoa Bay, 
and all this without sixpence in his Treasury? 

I regard him as one of the most remarkable men in South Africa, 
who has been singularly unfortunate- When I sec him in Pretoria 
with Bechuanaland gone and other lands around him gone from his 
grasp; and kst of all, when he with .his whole idea of a pastoral 
republic, finds that idea vanishing, I pity that man, I cannot help 
pitying him. 

Rhodes considered it opportune to come to terms with the 
President. He resorted to his new technique of approaching him 
*on the personal'. It had no effect on Kruger. He now tried to 
come to his aid in small matters against Warren. Kruger ignored 
these overtures. It was obvious that he detested Rhodes whom he 
knew to be responsible for all the trouble in Bechuanaland. 

[10!] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Having been informed by Du Toit, Rhodes' severest enemy in 
South Africa, about Rhodes' political development, Krager looked 
upon him as the personification of Jingoism. Feeling that the 
final round between Britain and Ms country had now begun, 
with Rhodes as its driving force, he described Rhodes as 'the 
curse of South Africa*. Asked for an explanation, he said: 

This young man I like not; he goes too fast for me; he has robbed 
me of the North. I cannot understand how he manages it, but he 
never sleeps and he does not smoke. That young man will cause me 
trouble if he does not leave politics alone and turn to something 
else. Well, the racehorse is swifter than the ox, but the ox can draw 
the greater loads. We shall sec. 

The freebooters had given up all resistance. Their former 
republics were now under British administration. The boundaries 
had been freshly fixed by an agreement between Warren and 
Kruger. No reason remained for military action. The High 
Commissioner, the Cape Government, and particularly Cecil 
Rhodes believed that Warren's mission had ended. Warren, 
however, wanted to earn cheap military glory and a hitting 
political success so as to make himself commendable for high 
honours as the great South African statesman and military genius. 

Warren set out to occupy Stellaland and Goshenland. He 
cancelled all agreements made by Rhodes. Van Niekerk was 
imprisoned. The boundaries were altered. All previously acknow- 
ledged land-titles were deckred null and void. 'All Dutch Boers 
and non-teetotallers' were excluded from acquiring land in 
Bechuanaland. Martial kw was declared and the fighting chiefs 
and their tribes reinstated in their former domains. 

Rhodes saw all his work undone by an ambitious soldier who 
had succumbed to the promptings of the militant parson, mouth- 
piece of Exeter Hall, the Reverend Mr Mackenzie. Foaming with 
fury, Rhodes asked for the recall of Mackenzie who had no 
official status. He accused Warren of having deliberately broken 
faith with the Stelkknders and Gosherutes by not keeping the 
solemn promise given by Rhodes with Warren's consent. 
Furiously Rhodes wrote in his report to the High Commissioner: 

... I remember, when a youngster, reading in my English History 
of the supremacy of my country and its annexations, and that there 

[102] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

were two cardinal axioms that the word of the nations when once 
pledged, was never broken, and that when a man accepted the 
citizenship of the British Empire there was no distinction between 
races. It has been my misfortune in one year to meet with the breach 
of one and the proposed breach of the other. 

Rhodes worked feverishly to avert further damage. The 
General, feeling himself safe in his position under the blessings 
and praises of Whitehall, now set out for Ms final stroke: to 
remove the man who through his criticism and accusations was 
impeding his actions and who might eventually rob him of his 
glory* He demanded the recall of Rhodes on the grounds that he 
was 'dangerous to the peace of the country 3 and that, until he 
was removed, it was *not considered safe to move on*. 

Rhodes resigned. He felt a loathing for the whole Becfauanaland 
affair. . . . He had, without reward, wasted a whole year out of 
his costly life over it; a period which he could have used more 
profitably by looking after his business. He had fought for this 
job at the risk of his political position and personal relationship 
with, all sections of the country because he thought it would be 
for the best interest of the country and of South Africa that the 
territory should be British. . . . And all he had got was the offer 
of a little brass medal which he had naturally to refuse ... all lie 
had got was to be told by a crotchety, irritable General, the 
representative of Her Majesty, that he was dangerous to the peace 
of the country . . . dangerous to the peace of die country! . . He 
should really not worry but let them stew in their own juice. . . . 
The best would be to go on a trip round the world; perhaps it 
would be better, as he had discussed it with Gordon , . . poor 
Gordon now dead he could wish to have been with Mm there 
discussed it with Gordon and later with Warren. Perhaps really 
better to go home into politics and be elected to the House of 
Commons. . . . 

But Rhodes decided to continue. After all he had attained his 
goal. The way into the heart of Africa was open, and in addition 
the aspirations of the Transvaal for supremacy in South Africa 
were broken for ever. However, Warren had antagonized the 
Transvaal more than was necessary. Rhodes considered himself 
completely innocent, having forgotten that he was the originator 
of the Northern scheme. For what had happened now he blamed 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Warren and Warren alone. He needed the goodwill of the 
Transvaal, as he expressed in a speech after his return: 

. . . The only possibility of the union [of South Africa], is our 
being able to regard the inhabitants of the Transvaal just as we 
regard our own fellow-colonists. ... It is with this idea that I went 
into politics* This is what I have steadily advocated throughout my 
political life ... I have kept this end steadily in view as the ultimate 
goal of my politics. 

In Sir Hercules Robinson he still had a strong ally. By writing 
privately to a junior member of the British Cabinet to whom he 
introduced himself as the brother of Frank who had been at Eton 
with the recipient, he tried to influence Whitehall, particularly for 
the removal of Warren: 

Do not be led away by the assertion that I am pro-Dutch in my 
sympathies. I had to consider the best mode of permanently checking 
the expansion of the Boer republics into the interior. The only 
solution I can see is to enclose them by the Cape Colony . . . and my 
instructions have been that after asserting British supremacy the 
course desired was Colonial annexation, against "which Warren has 
agitated ever since he went into the country. . . . Conduct such as 
Warren's is just heaping up future trouble' in this country and 
destroying all chance of success for those who are working to cement 
the two nationalities on the basis of true loyalty to the British flag. 

At last he succeeded. Warren was recalled. 

Under ttie final solution southern Bechuanaland came under 
British administration for future transfer to the Cape, for which 
Rhodes had to wait ten years. The North of Bechuanaland was 
declared a British protectorate to be governed by its Native chiefs. 

Rhodes continued to attack Warren after the General's return 
to England. In a heated controversy between them in letters to 
The Times Rhodes did not aim at the General 'so much for the 
sake of revenge as to whitewash himself in British eyes from the 
widely spread taint of being anti-British and pro-Boer, disloyal to 
the Queen and an instrument of the Bond. Already at this stage 
he bore in mind that for the fulfilment of his pkns he would have 
to go to England for support and money. He thus needed an 
unblemished name in Whitehall. At the same time he had to keep 
English as well as Dutch voters in the Cape in good humour. 

[104] 



THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA 

Diplomatically he therefore declared In Parliament that by *eliml~ 
nation of the Imperial Factor' he had really meant Ms belief in 
'Colonialism*, but of course under the British flag. 

At the same time he confessed: 

*I came down to the House in 1881 a most rabid Jingo, but 
I have since passed through the fire of Bechuanaland/ 

To President Kruger, sitting on the sfoep of his house in 
Pretoria, his new State Secretary, young Dr Leyds, freshly im- 
ported from Holland, read the strangely contradictory news of 
Rhodes' oscillations between Imperialism and Colonialism. The 
President drew heavily on his long-stemmed pipe. Interrupting 
the reader he said slowly: 

'Only four people I fear: God, the Devil, de la Rey for his 
enormous strength and his quick tongue and daardie Engelsman 
Rhodes!' 



CHAPTER VII 

'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW 

TH VERYONE in Kimbcrley knew Barney Barnato. Anywhere 
.,0 else people would have stopped to look twice at the short 
chubby man with the pink baby cheeks and the large black 
piercing eyes which seemed never to be still; eyes which betrayed 
an overflowing wealth of humour. The thin upper lip, partly 
covered by a waxed and pointed reddish-brown moustache, the 
massive protruding lower lip and a chin stretched forward 
menacingly, gave warning of stapled energy and alertness. Longish 
yellow-brown hair, carefully parted in the middle, accentuated the 
chubbiness of the face to which a long broad nose and fleshy 
projecting ears stood in grotesque contrast. 

His clothes, one could see, came from an expensive tailor. The 
loudness of the large-check tweed jacket and trousers, with the 
low-cut red waistcoat and an enormous silk four-in-hand cravat 
in all colours of the rainbow and held together by a large diamond 
pin, gave evidence of great wealth rather than of good taste. 

Strangers would take him for a 'bookie*. Here in Kimberley 
not only was he known to everybody but they were all aware that 
he, Barney Barnato, of the firm of Barnato Brothers, lord over 
the Kimberley Mine, biggest property-owner in town, biggest 
diamond merchant in the world, master of the 'Kaffir Circus* on 
the London Stock Exchange, was the richest man in South Africa, 

By the smile of self-satisfaction, by the heavy pompous walk 
with which he idled along Market Square, one could easily 
surmise that he enjoyed his importance. 

Whoever passed him would take time at least to greet him with 
a 'Hullo, BarneyP 'Goeie more y Barney!' *$chener tog for eich> BarneyP 
Many would stop, merely to shake hands. For everyone Barnato 
had a friendly word. People in need knew that they could always 
appeal to him successfully, Barney Barnato understood the 
language of poverty. Out of his waistcoat-pocket would come 
a sovereign. Once he explained: *I always carry a stock of quids 
in that pocket for the benefit of stony-brokes/ 

[106] 



'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW" 

One March day in 1888 Barnato was in a less jocular mood 
than usual. He smiled vacantly when greeting his friends in the 
street. Anything wrong, perhaps, with 'Central*? How could 
anything possibly be wrong with Kimberley's richest mining 
company, the Kimberley Central Company, to which now 
belonged the whole of the Kimberley Mine, when the shares 
had soared within the last few weeks from 14 to 49? Barney's 
company was worth 8 million. Something wrong? Ridiculous! 

But Barney would not let himself be buttonholed. Sorry, old 
chap, I'm in a hurry. Having lunch with Rhodes at the Kimberley 
Club/ 

Just like Barney! It was only early morning but it seemed he 
had to let them know that he had at last succeeded in crashing 
those doors which had always been closed to him. 

Barney Barnato was seized by an attack of stage-fright which 
had already caused him a sleepless night. Today his future would 
be decided. Tomorrow he would again be good old Barney, 
liberally treating his old cronies to drinks in the bars, freely 
distributing from his pocket big cigars which bore on their labels 
his portrait with the Kimberley Mine in the background and the 
words *La Flor de Barney Barnato'. 

Petticoat Lane, the centre of London's East End ghetto for 
the petty Jewish traders, had been his home. There, after leaving 
school at fourteen, he had passed through the high school of 
smartness in the commercial battle of life, selling every week-day 
from a little hand-barrow all that a Jewish housewife needed for 
her home and kitchen. But on Sundays, the great day in the 'Lane' 
when the Yoks the sailors from the nearby East India Docks, 
workmen from the neighbourhood hunting for a bargain and 
even, out of curiosity, stolid citizens from the West End came 
to market, Barnato acted as one of the spielers who with exuberant 
glibness could sell almost anything at a good price no matter if 
it was a headache powder, insecticide, toys, worthless "gold* 
watches or bird-seed. 

His father, Isaac Isaacs, had trained his two sons, Henry and 
Barnett, well for early independence, and Harry and Barney soon 
felt that life in the ghetto atmosphere of Whitechapel was too 
boring and slow for them. Harry found a job as barman in the 
'King of Prussia*, the rendezvous of music-hall artistes. Since 
their earliest youth both boys had been enthusiastic about the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

theatre. Acquaintances at the "King of Prussia* encouraged the 
two boys to try their luck on the stage. They appeared In little 
East End music-halls, as the 'Barnato Brothers', Harry as 'gentle- 
man' in evening dress, as strong man, acrobat, juggler and teller 
o smutty stories and Barney as his stooge in the make-up of a 
down, presenting a pathetic figure in his clumsiness and helpless- 
ness, due mostly to his short-sightedness. 

When rumours of diamond finds were whispered in 'The Lane', 
Harry was among the first who went to South Africa and Barney 
followed soon afterwards. All that was left of his savings after 
paying for his passage was less than fifty pounds. Barney arrived 
at a bad time. His brother, like everyone else, had suffered under 
the many slumps on the diamond market. Barney's training in 
"The Lane' stood him in good stead. He bought and sold whatever 
came his way. And when there was nothing to be sold Barney 
earned money as a prise-fighter and once even appeared as a circus 
clown. 

When times improved, Barney associated himself \xdth another 
young man., Louis Cohen, whose only asset, like his own, con- 
sisted of tenacity, hope and good humour. With a few pounds 
of their savings Barney and Louis Cohen established themselves 
as kopje wallopers, wandering from one digging to another, 
trying to find diggers who would entrust them with the sale of 
their diamonds. Sometimes they even dared to buy on their own 
account. 

Barney Barnato, watching, listening and questioning, had not 
wasted a minute since he came to Kimberley, learning everything 
there was to be known about diamonds. His first big success came 
through a horse. To the horror of his partner he paid 27 icxr. 
for a half-starved shabby pony and a rickety old buggy which he 
obtained from a diamond buyer who had 'made his pile' and was 
going back home. 

*I tell you, Louis, this blooming gee-gee, bless its panting little 
heart, is a me^gia a bargainl* 

He was right: without waiting for any directions from the 
reins this equine caricature took him on its own from one digging 
to the other, where he was made welcome as the successor to the 
former buyer and obtained all his business. Now Barney could 
move more freely. He took a tiny shop, a mere cubby-hole, in 
Maloney's Bar. It cost a pound a day. Louis Cohen scolded him: 

[108] 



'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW' 

'You are mesbugge totally mad, Barney. You're mining us!* 
Barney replied: 'Schmig stumm shut up, you scbkmieL Pm tired 
of hoof-padding. Let the fellers come to us a for a change/ Again 
Barney was right. Maloney's was the first bar on coming to town 
from the claims. No digger would pass there without s liting his 
elbow'. 

The partnership did not last long. After a year Barney joined 
his brother Harry. 

Yet Barney, always a restless man, could not sit still in the 
office and left that part of the work to Harry* He seemed never 
to tire of making the rounds of the claims and having a friendly 
chat with the diggers. They did not mind the interruption in their 
work. It always meant a quarter of an hour of hearty laughter. 
Cleverly he combined his humorous talents with business acumen 
to profitable results. He knew, too, how to make everyone under- 
stand that no liberties could be taken with him. As he once told 
a friend: 

Never let a feller wrong you without getting square, no matter 
how long you wait; and never wrong a man if you can help it, 
because he will wait his time to get back on you, and at the worst 
possible moment. ... If you are going to fight, always get in the 
first blow. If a man is going to hit you, hit him first and say: 'If you 
try that, I'll hit you again!' It is no use your standing off and saying: 
*If you hit me, I'll hit you back/ D'ye follow? D'ye understand? 

His great moment came in 1876. Desperate nervousness had 
seized Kimberley when the yellow ground became exhausted and 
the blue soil yielded almost no results. Barnato had heard that 
the Kimberley mines were old volcanoes. Knowing every turn 
of the reef and every claim on the fields, he was convinced that 
the diamonds came from deep below and that the deeper one 
went, to where the pressure must have been greatest, the larger, 
richer and better would be the finds. Barnato was 'determined to 
go on until it broke me'. And, like Rhodes, he was prophetic 
when he said that 'the blue ground was the true home of the 

diamond'. 

Barnato bought four claims in the best part of the Kimberley 
Mine at a price of 3,000. Within a few weeks they yielded him 
a weekly income of 1,800. Bamako's star wa$ rising. Such 
meteoric ascent to wealth had to bring jealousy in its trail, 

[109] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Rumours went through town that these claims had only been 
bought by Bamato as an artful dodge to screen his nefarious 
dealings in I.D.B., Illicit Diamond Buying. 

No longer was he cheered in the bars as 'Jolly old Barney'. 
People ignored his friendly greetings. Old cronies avoided him. 

Instead of being able to enjoy his rapidly increasing wealth 
Barnato grew morose. Often these days he would repeat to him- 
self and to others, 'If you are going to fight, always get in the 
first blow. . . .* He bought more claims. He had come to the 
conclusion that he would have to buy the six centre claims in 
the Kimberley Mine in order to gain control over the whole. The 
future, he realized, pointed to the industrialization of diamond 
mining which would only be achieved through amalgamation. 
With a capital of 115,000 he founded his own company; he 
bought new claims; he increased the capital of his company which 
paid 36 per cent in dividends. He amalgamated all the other 
companies working in the Kimberley Mine into the Kimberley 
Central Company. Only one company, the French Diamond 
Mining Company, of which most of the shares were in French 
hands, still remained outside. In the 'Centra?, as his company was 
generally called, he was holder of the majority. It was admittedly 
the richest mine in Kimberley, and Barnato the wealthiest man, 
having made several millions in his financial transactions. With 
the dexterity of a financial acrobat he operated on the world's 
stock exchanges. If the London market was saturated he off- 
loaded his new issues in Vienna, Amsterdam or Paris. 

Gradually, and with the help of men of straw, he bought up 
the shares of two companies, De Beers Central and Oriental, 
which owned the best claims, right in the heart of De Beers Mine. 
Without these two mines Rhodes would never be able to expand 
or amalgamate. Rhodes had already cast his eyes on the two 
mines, but not having the money on hand he thought that they 
would no doubt one day fall into Ms lap. When in 1883 he was 
ready to take them over, Rhodes was surprised to find that 
Barnato owned them. 

Though they lived a stone's throw from each other, the two 
had never met. Tujmy little fellow, that Whitechapel prancer,' 
said Rhodes. "Impossible person/ remarked Beit. *I hate the sight 
of that scoundrel, 3 was Dr Jameson's comment. 

'Send a message round to him to come and see me/ Rhodes 



'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST 

said. *But in the office only, mind you* Don't want to be seen in 
public with him, otherwise people will think we too have come 
down to IJD.B. No doubt at a reasonable profit, he*U be glad to 
sell these parcels/ 

Bamato replied that if there was something Mr Rhodes wanted, 
would Mr Rhodes kindly come to see him. 

Rhodes was amused. "This little blighter means business. Will 
be a hard nut to crack/ Yet, to his amazement, Bamato offered 
no resistance. He agreed with Rhodes that amalgamation was 
essential at De Beers, just as in his Kimberley Mine. He stated Ms 
price. Rhodes tried to bargain. With pointed politeness Bamato 
answered that ever since he had left *The Lane' he had stuck 
firmly to his prices. Within a few minutes the deal was concluded. 
*Gunning fellow, this Barnato/ Rhodes said when he came home. 

Bamato, though he could certainly have obtained a still higher 
price, was determined* to oblige Rhodes in helping him to amal- 
gamate the remaining companies in De Beers Mine. Only Rhodes 
and he himself would then be left as the big mockers on the Fields 
and they would have to come to an understanding to prevent 
over-production and stop the fall in prices on the diamond market. 

Rhodes had come to a similar conclusion. The diamond market 
would have to be cleaned of irresponsible elements. He felt, 
however, that an understanding between Barnato's group and his 
own would be insufficient. The only solution was a diamond 
monopoly through a complete amalgamation of die two groups 
which would later easily absorb the few outsiders. It was no 
doubt in his mind that he, Cecil Rhodes, would become the leader 
of this monopolistic centralization of the diamond industry and 
the diamond market which, when completed, would become the 
biggest and most powerful private institution in South Africa, 
a strong force influencing the future of the entire African conti- 
nent. It would give him the social, political and financial standing 
necessary for his future plans: to open up the North, to paint 
Africa's map red. He wanted to secure the Diamond Fields only 
as a *jumping~off place'. 

Rhodes was worried about over-production. Since the intro- 
duction of underground mining and mechanization De Beets was 
able to produce up to one million carats a year. Barnato, whose 
Kimberley Mine had always produced bigger yields, would pet- 
haps double De Beers* output. Prices were sinking rapidly* He 

[XII] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

had asked e little Beit who had a flair for figures* how many men in 
England and the United States were married per year. On the basis 
of these figures and those of the average export of diamonds over 
the last years, Rhodes discovered that regardless of the economic 
position men would never spend more than 4 million annually 
on diamonds on small stones when prices were high, on bigger 
ones when low, but never exceeding that amount. Only a 
monopoly would save the industry, by restoring high prices and 
limiting production. 

Rhodes lived, slept and worked with only the one thought of 
a gigantic diamond monopoly corporation. In the middle of the 
night he would come, half-dressed, drive Beit or Rudd out of 
bed, throw himself into a chair and, stroking his chin nervously 
with his right forefinger, shout in an excited, high-pitched voite: 
*I have just hit on an idea that has been worrying me for weeks . . .* 
And for hours he would talk about his plans. 

Once a friend, Dr Sauer, found him sitting on a rock on the 
edge of De Beers Mine, as if in a trance, staring into the deep 
hole in which the workmen appeared like ants. What was he 
thinking about? Pronouncing each word distinctly, Rhodes 
replied: 

*I was calculating the amount of blue ground in sight and the 
power that this blue ground would confer on the man who 
obtained control of it all/ 

Only one man stood in his way, 'that cunning little Jew, 
Barnato*. He was the only man in South Africa whom he feared, 
Barnato's path ran along the same lines as his own. One day they 
would clash. Either they would have to go along the road 
together or one of them would have to step aside. 

How was he to approach Barnato? To c take him on the personal* 
would perhaps flatter one in whom, in spite of all his millions, 
there certainly remained enough of Whitechapel to lap up any 
kindness bestowed on him. At their first dealings he had fallen 
for it. An invitation was sent to Barnato to meet Rhodes in 
Dr Jameson's house. Barnato knew of Jameson's raving dislike 
for him and had tried several times unsuccessfully to be on 
friendly terms with the doctor. 

The meeting went off contrary to Rhodes* expectations. It was 
a very determined Barnato, obviously fully aware of his strong 
position, who sat opposite him, smiling benignly and completely 

[112] 



'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW* 

obdurate. He would not even enter Into discussions on the value 
of the Kimberley Mine or on the price of Central shares. He 
replied calmly: Mr Rhodes knows as well as I do that Kimberley 
Mine can produce yearly, even under the worst management, 
twice as many diamonds as the whole world would be able to buy,* 

Rhodes saw the threat in his words. Bamato could bring down 
the price still further and would still be making a profit. He tried 
again. Finally, as if bored with Rhodes' repeated pressure to name 
a price, Barnato exclaimed: 'The value of the Kimberley Mine, 
why it's worth three times what De Beers is worth/ 

Only with difficulty could Rhodes restrain himself from show- 
ing his disappointment. It would mean war now, battle to the 
knife. Though different in many respects from himself, he had a 
liking for Barnato, and at the same time he was afraid of him, 
because he felt Barnato's superiority when it came to financial 
operations. Rhodes was never a financier and had never learnt the 
art of building up a sound financial structure for his various big 
enterprises. He was by nature a speculator, a financial adventurer 
an imaginative punter. For an idea Rhodes would venture every- 
thing: his fortune, his whole personality, his future. He did not 
ask about and was not at all concerned with such 'details* as 
whether his actions corresponded with the accepted moral and 
legal standards. He felt himself above good or evil. Rhodes 
believed in his visions, his instincts, his mission. He took everyone 
who stood between him and his aims as a personal enemy. Soon 
he imagined that he was surrounded by enemies, It was true that 
Rhodes* unpopularity increased in proportion to his success. His 
ruthlessness, his abruptness, his overbearing haughtiness, his 
cynicism expressed in acid sarcasms and his proverbial tactlessness 
and apparently inhuman indifference, gave people a low opinion 
of Rhodes as a man. Some admired him as an outstanding expert 
on all questions concerning diamonds. The larger number envied 
him for his success and said that he had merely been luckier than 
others. Those who hated lAm for having 'pushed them out of 
their luck' or for 'letting nobody else make a living in Kimberiey* 
were at that time in the majority. 

Rhodes' vanity was hurt by the antagonism displayed towards 
him. He now saw an enemy in everyone. Though his unpopu- 
larity was in most cases due to his voluntary seclusion from the 
outside world, he avoided people still more. His shyness, bom 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

out of a feeling of insecurity and inferiority, the fear that one 
wrong step could hurl him back into the abyss of anonymity, 
caused him to live in a friendless vacuum. His ideas, his plans, 
his future, was all that counted and everything for which he was 
striving could be summed up in the one word, Power; the instru- 
ment with which to obtain it, Money. To General Gordon he 
had explained: 

If one has ideas, one cannot carry them out without wealth to 
back them. I have therefore tried to combine the commercial with 
the imaginative, and up to the present Fve not failed. 

It was certainly no pose when he indicated that money, even 
great wealth, in itself never satisfied him. To him money was 
equivalent to power, as he repeatedly expressed it in his naive, 
primitive way: 

Money is power, and what can one accomplish without power? 
That is why I must have money. Ideas are no good without money. 
, . . For its own sake I do not care for money. I never tried it for its 
own sake but it is a power and I like power. ... I want the power 
let who will wear the peacock's feathers. 

Most of Rhodes' business decisions were dictated by intuition, 
unlike Barnato, who relied exclusively on knowledge. 

Rhodes came to Kimberley to gain wealth; Barnato to find 
security and social improvement. The fact that Rhodes was aware 
of his social superiority became evident during the meeting with 
Barnato, though he tried hard to conceal it by an enforced 
amiability. Barnato had no illusions about Rhodes' low opinion 
of him, Beit's badly disguised contempt, or Dr Jameson's obvious 
disgust. 

When he returned from the meeting he first swallowed a large 
gulp of brandy, before telling his nephew and junior partner, 
Woolf Joel, what had happened: they had 'grovelled' before him, 
with their *sweet talky-talk' had given him champagne with porter, 
tihtdb: favourite booze, in the belief that they would easily be able 
to 'take a rise* out of him who in their eyes was still a nobody, 
an outcast a bloody East End Jew-boybut for all their 'soft 
sawder' they weren't able to pull wool over his short-sighted 
'peepers*. They just gave him a 'sickener'. 



'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW* 

Deep in thought he added, more seriously: 

'Rhodes looks down on me because I have no education 
never been to college like him. ... If I had received the education 
of Cecil Rhodes, there would not have been a Cecil Rhodes/ 

Rhodes had not impressed him when he tried to show off by 
quoting Greek poetry. There was, however, someiMng undefin- 
able about Rhodes which attracted him. He felt a kindred spirit 
in Rhodes whose existence, he thought, was animated by the same 
desire to reach the top, to let the world feel the pull of his money. 
And in this typically English gqy y just as in himself, this aim 
pulsated so strongly that he pursued his schemes ruthlessly and 
forcibly. Only, where in Rhodes one spoke of ^financial ingenuity' 
and ^unavoidable hardships necessitated by economic exigencies', 
the same methods in his own case were labelled 'dirty tricks* or the 
^pettifogging sharp practices of Whitechapel'. Bamato could not 
help liking Rhodes. He was at least an opponent with whom the 
battle became an exciting game. Rhodes had made some allusions 
to his plans in the North. He still had to laugh when he thought of 
Rhodes' *crack-pot schemes'. Was Rhodes meshugge that he wanted 
to waste his kosher money taming savage Natives in a country 
where a lion waits for you at every corner to serve for its break- 
fast? Without doubt, Rhodes was a bit 'dotty'. Those staring blue 
eyes could sometimes give you the creeps. . . . 

The fight was on. Rhodes had told Barnato that he would push 
him out of the Kimberley Mine by acquiring the majority of 
Central shares. Beit was shocked at this method of letting one's 
opponents in on one's future plans, but Rhodes believed ia 
playing with open cards. He explained: 

*I find in life it is far better to tell the town-crier exactly what 
you are going to do and then you have no trouble/ 

The trouble, however, soon started. Rhodes raised his arm to 
strike his first blow. Like a general he had planned his campaign. 
He was not yet able to aim at Barnato's Central, but he could 
harass him by curbing his further expansion. Still one independent 
mine, adjoining Barnato's mines, remained in the Kimberley 
Mine. Rhodes negotiated with the proprietor but in the last 
minute he was outbid by Sir Donald Currie, a wealthy shipowner, 
who also had the intention to amalgamate. Rhodes did not give 
up easily. He sent two of his friends to Cape Town to offer Currie 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

a reasonable profit on these shares. Currie was on the point of 
embarking for England. 'Follow him on the same ship/ was 
Rhodes' order. Currie was not disinclined to accept the offer and 
buoyed up Rhodes' agents. When the ship stopped in Madeira, 
Currie received by cable from Kimberley the latest share prices, 
which were much higher than those offered by Rhodes. He told 
the agents in not too parliamentary language what he thought of 
Mr Rhodes' business methods. When informed of the reason for 
the breakdown of the negotiations Rhodes manipulated the 
market so as to bring these shares down to a price below his 
original offer. Now, he thought, old Currie would be only too 
glad to get rid of them at the old price. Currie, however, was 
informed simultaneously of Rhodes' market manoeuvres. His 
language once again was very outspoken when he declined to 
have any further dealings with Rhodes. 

Rhodes was beaten. He had learnt one more lesson: it was 
easier to pick up diamonds in Kimberley than to pick the pockets 
of millionaires. He consulted 'Little Beit'. He negotiated once 
more, secretly, with Barnato. But Barney had become even more 
obdurate, laughing at all offers and continually making dark 
allusions to a very big stock of "beauties of diamonds' kept in 
reserve for the 'psychological moment'. Rhodes' nerves snapped. 
He shouted at Beit: 'One can never deal with obstinate people until 
one gets the wfcip-hand of them. The only thing we have to do to 
secure success for our industry is to get control of Kimberley 
Mine * 

Barnato had announced his decision to introduce Central shares 
on the London Stock Exchange. Quick action was necessary. 
Rhodes had already acquired one-fifth of the issued Central shares 
by pledging his own De Beers shares. Now his own means were 
exhausted. He explained to Beit that in order to buy sufficient 
Central shares they would have to have at their disposal 2-3 

million; 

A big undertakingl If one can only have the pluck to undertake 
it, one must succeed. Don't let us go to the shareholders. If we fail, 
they can only make us personally liable. . . . But where's the money 
to come from where* s the money to come from the money to 
come from? 

After a dramatic pause Beit turned to Rhodes and, swaying 

[n6] 



'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW* 

nervously from side to side in his easy-chair, from which his 
crossed legs did not quite reach the ground, said; 

'Oh, well get the money if we can only buy the shares.' 

Beit had good connections with the London House of Roths- 
child. He discussed the matter with their representative in 
Kimberiey, an expert mining engineer, suggesting that he would 
first buy the French company, thus encroaching on the Kimberley 
Mine. Rhodes, with freshly awakened optimism, had no doubt 
that the Rothschilds would jump at the plan, and took their help 
so much for granted that he set out for London without waiting 
for Rothschild's reply. 

In August 1887, in high spirits, he opened the door to New 
Court in London City, where a simple plate indicated the premises 
of N. M. Rothschild & Sons, Merchants, He lost a good deal of 
his courage when he found that it was not as easy as he had 
expected to see His Lordship Nathaniel Mayer, first Baron 
Rothschild, even if one was Cecil J. Rhodes from Kimberley. He 
was received with icy politeness by one of His Lordship's 
managers in the drab atmosphere of dusty soKdity which ruled 
in these dark offices where everyone whispered as if in the House 
of the Lord. Rhodes was told that the matter was under considera- 
tion by the House's experts. This cold shower did not unnerve 
him entirely. He would have to have their decision soon, no, 
immediately, and so he told the almost flattened Stock Exchange 
high priest in trembling descant: 

'Sir, 1*11 call again in half an hour. If you are not ready with 
your answer then, I shall go elsewhere.' 

Rhodes had nowhere else to go, of course. But his crude bluff 
was effective. Lord Rothschild was interested in having a look at 
a digger from South Africa who had dared to threaten with raised 
voice the House of Rothschild and had set it a time-limit. But he 
would have to wait until the matter had been thoroughly investi- 
gated by the experts of the firm. Rothschild regarded this business 
not as an investment but as a preliminary step towards amalgama- 
tion and monopoly. After a short time Rothschild asked Rhodes 
to visit him again in order to clear a few points and when 
Rhodes was at the door he heard Lord Rothschild say to his 
assistant: 

'You may tell Mr Rhodes, that if he can buy the French 
Company, I think I can raise the million pounds sterling.' 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



Rhodes left New Court in triumph: the House of Rothschild, 
*the Bankers of Kings and the Kings of Bankers', had become his 
ally a 'sometimes pulled and anxious ally 5 , as Lord Rothschild 
kter described the connection. 

Losing no time, Rhodes made a substantial offer to the directors 
of the French Company to acquire all shares, which, after long 
bargaining, they accepted with the provision that an extraordinary 
meeting of shareholders should agree to it. Before the meeting 
was convened Barnato, as one of the principal shareholders, 
having learnt of Rhodes' offer, bid 300,000 more for the 
company. Barney Barnato would not allow himself to be pushed 
aside as easily as all that. 'If you are going to fight, always get 

in the first blow 'He indicated to Rhodes that he would pay 

even more and intended to outbid him to the last. 

For Rhodes there was more at stake than the French Company: 
his reputation with the Rothschilds. They were already anxiously 
inquiring about the delay. 

Since it was Rhodes' belief that there was no one in the world 
with whom it was not *as easy to deal with as to fight 9 , there was 
no reason why it should not be possible with Barney Barnato. 
One would have to try it again, either "on the personal' or simply 
by 'squaring' him. 

They met once more. Barnato came well prepared. In a suitcase 
he had brought with him a large selection of the finest diamonds 
which the Central Company kept in reserve. When he saw them, 
Rhodes would understand what great power Barnato could wield 
if he were to sell them on the market cheaply. He spread them 
ou t a collection worth well over a million pounds. 

Talking like a Sunday School teacher to a sulky schoolboy, 
Rhodes poured forth tirades about cutting each other's throats 
through Barnato's obstinate interest in the French Company. 

Barnato, however, could not be taken 'on the personal'. Rhodes 
took out his cheque-book: 

'Now, Barnato, you just tell me how much it is worth for you 
to give up your obstruction against the French Company coming 
under my control. Name your figure, man!' 

'No, Mr Rhodes. If I could see your scheme would be for the 
benefit of the shareholders in the French Company I would never 
have objected to it.' 

'Well, if you will withdraw your opposition I will give you 

[H8] 



Barney Barnato 




The cheque drawn by De 
Beers for the acquisition of 
the assets of the Central 
Company in liquidation 



'ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW* 

a cheque to cover all that you think you lose by allowing my 
offer to pass.' 

*No s that won't do. It would put me all right, but what about 
the shareholders in the French Company? 5 

Should one shout at him to stop that bloody nonsense of silly 
talk or burst out laughing in his face? Imagine that cunning little 
fellow all of a sudden discovering a conscience in his bosom! 
Rhodes, however, soon realized that Barnato was quite serious in 
his attitude. A break with Barnato had to be avoided. He squinted 
at the side-table where Barnato's numerous parcels of diamonds 
lay. Barnato could and would upset the whole market for years 
by their sale. 

Rhodes made another suggestion. Seeing that Bamato was not 
willing to withdraw his protest against Rhodes* taking over the 
French Company, Rhodes was prepared to pass all his shares in 
that company to Barnato at the original price and would not even 
ask for cash but accept payment in Central shares. 

Barnato, of course, saw the trap. Rhodes, however, was not 
the macber in this game but only the dummy of the Rothschilds. 
With the Rothschilds one would have to keep on good terms 
and what was wrong with having the House of Rothschild as 
shareholders in one's company? Then nothing would ever go 
wrong the Rothschilds are like guardian angels in time of need. 
The French Company in his possession would remove the last 
outsider from the Kimberley Mine. Now he would be able to 
work more economically through mechanization and produce 
diamonds at a cost of less than six shillings. If he wished, he 
might sell a carat at the price of even fifteen shillings and still 
make a good profit. He must mention that to Rhodes and show 
Mm his diamonds. But first let this deal be finished with. That he 
would not have to pay cash for the French Company suited him 
very well. A real godsend. He would need all his money, every 
single stiver very soon. Gold was being found in the Transvaal, 
he had heard. One must be prepared for such a case. All right, 
let Lord Rothschild come and buy some of his Central shares. He 
will be welcome. 

Rhodes was surprised at Bamato's quick acceptance and 
naively believed that he had tricked Barnato. Barnato, on the 
other hand, was convinced that he had made the better bargain. 
In one point, however, he was mistaken: the Rothschilds were 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

not interested in Ms shares and were acting merely as financing 
agents for Rhodes and his partners. 

After the deal was signed, Barnato showed Rhodes his dia- 
monds. *Only a part of our reserve stock/ he said proudly and 
with obvious malice. Rhodes opened one parcel after the other 
and looked silently at the stones. With expert eyes it did not take 
him long to realize that these diamonds represented the acme of 
quality that the Fields could produce. 

*Have you ever seen a bucketful of diamonds, Barney?' (The 
*aintiing little Jew 5 had suddenly become 'Barney' to him.) e lt has 
always been a dream of mine to see a bucketful of diamonds. . . . 
I'm sure that's a bucketful lying here on the table . . . certainly 
... a bucketful here on the table. . . . Shall we try, Barney? Think 
of it, a bucketful of diamonds. . . . One is really tempted to try. . . .' 

And before Barnato realized what was happening, Rhodes had 
brought a bucket and quickly poured the diamonds from their 
tissue wrappings into the vessel, filling it almost to the brim. 
With flushed face, his eyes half closed in rapture, he buried his 
hands in the precious stones and let them glide through his 
fingers. 

He seemed to have been completely carried away and almost 
started when he heard Barnato's voice: 

*A good show, isn't it? Could De Beers do as much?' 

*No, De Beers could never have done it.' 

This time Rhodes scored over Barnato: he knew that to sort 
and value these stones anew would take several weeks. Only to 
gain time had Rhodes staged this little comedy. 

Every day now counted* A battue-hunt for Central shares had 
been started by RJhodes, In Kimberley, London, Paris, Berlin, 
Vienna and Amsterdam, Beit had instructed his brokers to buy 
up every single Central share coming on the market, no matter 
at what cost. Rhodes had scraped together every single penny. 
Beit contributed 250,000 to the battle-fund and the Rothschilds 
were willing to put 2-3 million at their disposal. Now he was 
starting to get the whip-hand of 'that obstinate little donkey'. 

Rhodes enjoyed the drive whole-heartedly. There were 176,592 
Central shares of a nominal value of 10 each which constituted 
the original capital of Central. The shares were quoted at 14 
when Rhodes began to buy. More than half of the issued 
capital was in the hands of Barnato and his friends. Rhodes at the 

[120] 



C ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW* 

beginning owned one-fifth. His stock increased from day to day 
though at rapidly mounting prices. 

Barnato now also started to buy In order to ward off Rhodes* 
attack. Soon he noticed that he was buying shares secretly sold 
by his friends who were tempted by the dizzy offers. Rhodes 
observed the same thing: several of Ms friends thought it wiser 
to cash in on a quick profit before It became too kte. Ever-correct 
Wernher, Beit's partner, who was acting as Rhodes' agent, was 
becoming worried about the big engagements of his firm in 
Central shares. When Beit one day reported the purchase of 
another krge amount of Centrals he feared that his partner would 
reproach him. But Weraher reassured him: 'Oh, that's all right. 
I found the firm was more involved in these shares than I liked, 
so I have sold a lot at excellent prices.* 

Barnato went on buying but when the shares reached a quota- 
tion of 40 per share, four times their original price, tie was 
convinced that they had exceeded their true value. He now began 
slowly to sell himself, at the same time driving the price up to 
.45 , If these cbochems these wise chaps he thought, want to 
have my Kimberley Mine let them pay through the nose for the 
pleasure. . . . He kept quite a large number so that he would still 
have a say when it came to the funeral. And, besides-^ he had 
been clever enough to retain his Founders' Preference shares 
without which they could do nothing. 

When Rhodes had more than 100,000 out of the 170,000 odd 
shares at his command, he thought the time had come to sound 
the gong, though Barnato had by no means been knocked out. 

To flatter Barnato's vanity, who, he knew, suffered under his 
'bubble reputation', Rhodes had invited him to the Kimberley 
Club. It was not easy to become a member there. Jews were 
generally excluded. 

They retired to a private room. Everything seemed to go 
smoothly. Batnato had given up all resistance, and the financial 
side was settled to their mutual satisfaction. There was only one 
point, about which they could not come to an agreement. Rhodes 
insisted on bringing into the deed of trust of the future company, 
which was to amalgamate the Kimberley and De Beers companies, 
Ms 'cranky ideas* as Barnato called them. 'What has a diamond- 
mining company/ he asked excitedly, *to do with . . . now listen: 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

"anywhere In the world construct, maintain and operate tram- 
ways, railways, roads, tunnels, canals, gasworks, electric works, 
etc.?" . . . and now listen: "acquire tracts of country in Africa or 
elsewhere * . . and expend thereon any sums deemed requisite 
for the maintenance and good government.'* . . . No, no, I'm. 
not interested in Mr Rhodes' painting the map of Africa red with 
our money, the only purpose of which was and is and for 
which it was entrusted to me by the shareholders to dig for 
diamonds. . . .* 

They went on to Dr Jameson's house, where they could speak 
more freely. Midnight had passed. Rhodes put his hand on 
Barnato's shoulder, looked him straight in the eye and said: 
'Listen, Barney, I want to make a gentleman of you. I'll see and 
I can guarantee you almost that I'll have you elected to Parliament 
for Kimberley as the representative of the Diamond Industry, I'll 
back you personally. . . . And I'll have you made a member of 
the Kimberley Club. . . .* 

Barnato softened. He willingly agreed to a clause *to guard 
against the adoption of any unwise policy,' that he and Rhodes 
as well as Beit and a representative of the Rothschilds be nomi- 
nated Life Governors and Directors of the company, which was 
to be styled De Beers Consolidated Mines with a capital of over 
^zj million. It was a profitable position, as Life Governors 
received 15 per cent of the profits of the company, which was to 
bring them each a yearly income of 300,000 to 400,000 for many 
years, until this royalty was abolished by a payment in De Beets 5 
shares worth several million pounds. 

In the morning, after fifteen hours' discussion, Barnato 
declared: 

'Well, Rhodes, some people have a fancy to one thing, some 
to another. You want the tneans to go North, if possible, and 
I suppose we must give them to you.' 

When Barnato came home, exhausted, he sat up with his 
nephew Joel to review the events of the previous hours. As if to 
render account to himself, he said almost in a whisper: 

'There is no other man who lives in the world who could have 
induced me to have gone in with him in the amalgamation; but 
Rhodes has an extraordinary ascendancy over men, and he gets 
men to do almost anything he likes. No one would believe it at 
first, but he roped me in as he ropes in everyone else. Of course, 

[122] 



C ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW* 

I don't mean to say I did not make good terms with him, but 
I had always been so much opposed to the amalgamation that I 
was surprised myself at being able to come to terms at all. But 
that's Rhodes* way. Somehow or other you find it Impossible to 
stand out against him, and so you come in with him and find it 
to your profit to do so. You can't resist him: you must be with. 
him! 5 

Difficulties arose when some minority shareholders of Central 
objected to the amalgamation on the grounds that De Beers had 
in its deed of trust so many strange propositions that did not 
correspond with the tasks of a mining company. The case was 
fought out at the Supreme Court. In a judgment against amalga- 
mation it was declared of the new company that it 'can do 
anything and everything and since the time of the East India 
Company no company had had such power as this. . . / 

Rhodes in consequence had to place the Central Company in 
liquidation and acquire its assets. It was a loss merely of time and 
concerned only a small minority of shareholders. Upon amalga- 
mation the owners of Central who agreed had received for one 
of their 10 Central shares two 5 De Beers shares plus z ios 
in cash. De Beers shares at that time had reached a maximum 
price of 49 after they had changed hands at only 15 four 
months before. 

Rhodes had predicted on the day of amalgamation that the 
price would soon go down: 

'And tonight they'll talk it all over with their wives and 
tomorrow they'll all sell like hell.' And in fact, the following 
week the shares were down to 38. 

One of the shareholders buttonholed Rhodes with the words: 
*I hear, Mr Rhodes, you have settled Central on the basis of two 
De Beers shares for one Central* May God forgive you, Mr 
Rhodes, but I never can/ 

The Kimberley Central shares had cost De Beers more than 
.3 million to acquire. For the poorer mines, formerly described 
by Rhodes as 'those mines that are too rich to leave and too poor 
to pay, which were once to me what I might call spectres of the 
night', he had to pay more than z million before he had full 
control over the entire Kimberley diamond industry and 90 per 
cent of the world's diamond production. 

["3] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

In order to control the sale of diamonds Rhodes, with some of 
the biggest diamond merchants* had founded the Diamond 
Syndicate in London. The first contract for five years amounted 
to 25 million* When negotiations became difficult over a dif- 
ference concerning 5,000, Rhodes cabled: 1 thought I was 
dealing with diamond merchants, not retail grocers/ 

The price of diamonds, after amalgamation, went up to thirty 
shillings per carat. De Beers had to watch that supply and demand 
should balance. In the De Beers office a wooden box measuring 
two feet by nine inches was kept in a heavy safe. As soon as this 
box was filled production was stopped immediately. The little 
wooden box yielded the shareholders a yearly dividend of at least 
z million and up to 4 million. 

Rhodes' financial position improved proportionately. From De 
Beers alone he received in dividends and fees an annual income 
of 300,000, later mounting to half a million. With the various 
share dealings and the foundation of the new company, and the 
Diamond Syndicate, he had made a large fortune. Counting the 
shares in his possession alone, he was worth several million 
pounds. 

Neither the Board of Directors nor the auditors and his 
colleagues could prevent Rhodes from considering himself lord 
and master over De Beers. Board meetings were to him nothing 
but a nuisance of a formality. He would always arrive late, glance 
at the agenda and in a few sentences give his opinion, ending with 
these words addressed to the secretary: C I think we are all agreed 
about that. . . / And so he would hurry through point after point 
until at the end of the last item he would jump up from his chair 
and, already at the door, would murmur: 'That's all for this 
morning, I think. Good morning, gentlemen.* Before anyone 
could open his mouth, he was out of the room. 

After amalgamation Rhodes introduced the compound system 
in order to break I.D.B., the only leak in his otherwise watertight 
monopoly. The Natives, employed on the 'floors', where the 
dried diamondiferous soil was washed, carried away, undetected 
by even the most careful supervision, more diamonds than they 
left behind. Rhodes considered it better to buy these diamonds 
at a low price from the Natives than to let them fall into the 
ckws of the I.D.B. vultures. Thus De Beers was buying through 
agents the bulk of their own diamonds from their own Natives. 



ALWAYS GET IN THE FIRST BLOW 

The white workmen, though well paid, soon became dissatis- 
fied with the changed conditions after amalgamation* After most 
of the smaller mines had closed and mechanization had replaced 
a great number of hands, it became more difficult to find work and 
employers were less easily amenable to their demands. Demon- 
strations, instigated by a kind of trade union, the 'Knights of 
Labour*, at which several window-panes were smashed, were 
directed against Rhodes. They blamed for the loss of their jobs 
and their present misery *the existence and domination of one 
greed, Monopoly, one giant Corporation, as well as the over- 
weening greed and ambition of one wealthy, overestimated, 
disappointed politician*. 

Among many employees as well as among the inhabitants of 
Kimberley a deep hatred was fermenting against Rhodes. The 
dissatisfaction was aggravated by a feeling of being constantly 
watched in their jobs as well as in their private lives by De Beers* 
secret agents. These agents had not only to prevent I.D.B. but 
also to report on the political activities of the staff. 

Very often Rhodes was blamed for measures against the work- 
men of De Beers of which he did not even know. He had given 
instructions to the managers to exercise the greatest economy. 
Once a deputation of miners complained about a reduction in 
their wages. Among them were many men whom Rhodes had 
known in his earliest Kimberley days. He told them that they 
would in future be paid at the old rate and that their reduction 
would be refunded to them. Rhodes was furious. He stormed 
into the board-room where the managers were just assembled. 
Without a word of greeting he shouted: 

*If we are going to cut, begin at the top. Fm paying you people 
a thousand a year, and for what? Cut by all means, but begin at 
the top . . . and begin now. And my picture is hanging on the 
wall of this room gazing down on you bastards. . . . Give me 
a knife . . . give me a knife. . . .* 

And, in a towering rage, Rhodes cut the painting to pieces. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE FAT OF THE LAND 

ryio WARDS the middle of 1886 gold was found in the district 
JL of the Witwatersrand, the Ridge of the White Waters, thirty 
miles from the Transvaal capital, Pretoria. An exodus took place 
from Kimberley. 

Scenes of the early Kimberley days were repeated. A town of 
tents, tin-shanties and wooden boxes grew up overnight. It was 
called Johannesburg. 

It immediately became obvious, however, that mining gold on 
the Rand confronted diggers with a proposition different from 
early conditions in Kimberley. For dealing with the hard rock of 
the Rand a miner had to know something about blasting and had 
to have a crushing plant and stamp batteries. Gold-mining 
demanded considerable financial resources. 

The Kimberley magnates at first found that they would have to 
finance this new venture on the Rand by themselves. London City 
bankers and speculators considered all gold finds with the utmost 
suspicion. The Times opened its columns to warnings that 'bonafide 
investors should be very cautious ... as fully 75 per cent of the 
properties . . . may be accurately described as "bubbles" 5 . 

Among the first who had received information about the gold 
finds was J. B. Robinson. Unfortunately he happened at the 
moment to be c stony-broke ? and, much to his disgust, had to ask 
Alfred Beit for financial assistance for partnership in the new 
venture. Out of loyalty Beit offered Rhodes half his share. Rhodes 
showed no interest. Only after long persuasion did he agree to 
send one of his friends, Hans Sauer, a young medical practitioner, 
to the Rand. Sauer, like many other doctors in South Africa, 
knew something about geology. 

Dr Sauer went to the Rand in the same coach as Robinson. 
Robinson assured the doctor that he was on his way to Pretoria 
to buy wool. Dr Sauer retaliated by telling him that he was on 
his way to spend a holiday with an aunt. 

The young doctor carried in his pocket-book a cheque from 



THE FAT OF THE LAND 

Rhodes for 200* This trifling amount, reluctantly handed over, 
turned out to be the best investment Rhodes ever made. Saner 
secured options on several farms situated on the most promising 
side of the suspected run of the Reef. 

Upon Sauer's return to Kitnberfey his impassioned report was 
received with little enthusiasm by Rhodes. Rhodes reproached 
him for the 'extravagance of having wasted twenty to thirty 
pounds on some options* and refused to refund him for the 
outlay, Beit's offer to enter into partnership with him and 
Robinson, Rhodes refused point-blank. Anything connected with 
the 'Buccaneer* he would not touch. 

Beit's vivid interest and activities on the gold-fields alarmed 
him. He told Rudd: *It will never do to let Beit forget that his 
diamond interests are calling him. If Beit becomes too deeply 
involved in this gold business I may risk losing his support, 
which I absolutely need, for the fulfilment of my dreams in the 
North and the acquisition of the political power that 1 must have 
behind me when the moment arrives. . . / 

Being in the middle of his battle of amalgamation, Rhodes 
resisted with might and main being dragged into a new venture* 
Kimberley and its diamonds had become part of himself. De 
Beers was his creation. He was attached to it like a mother to her 
child whose birth had almost killed her. Gold, in contrast, had 
no meaning for Rhodes. Each diamond possessed a life in itself, 
an individuality, a personal destiny. Gold cold metal could 
not inspire his imagination. 

In these days Rhodes stood for hours staring at his old crumpled 
map of Africa, now almost faded in the piercing African sun. He 
did dream of gold but of Africa's real source of gold, the Gold of 
Ophir, the Queen of Sheba's gold-mines. He was convinced that 
the reef on the Rand was only a branch of a lode, an offshoot of 
the true goldfields WL Mashonaland and Matabeleland. 

That these gold-fields of the Rand should be situated in the 
Transvaal, in Paul Kruger's domain, only thirty miles from the 
old President's residence, vexed Rhodes considerably. Overnight, 
the Transvaal had been reborn as an important factor in South 
Africa. Should he, Rhodes, invest money and become dependent 
on Meneer Kruger and his Boers' goodwill? 

Only reluctantly, and after two days' persuasion, did Rhodes 
set out for Johannesburg together with Dr Sauer and Rudd. His 

["7] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

humour did not Improve when he saw that Beit, Robinson. 
Barnato, and many others who had made money in Kimberley, 
had invested large amounts in buying claims or whole farms all 
round the new township. 

Rhodes became still more sceptical when Gardner Williams, 
the able and shrewd expert whom the Rothschilds had charged 
with the investigations, told him: Tf I rode over these reefs in the 
States, I would not get off my horse to look at them/ 

Sauer had procured for the sum of 250 an option on a large 
portion of the main reef which would have made him the biggest 
and richest gold-producer in the world, Rhodes hesitated. To 
buy this rocky land would mean a speculation which might, 
perhaps, endanger the fulfilment of his plans in the North. 

Rhodes was in a bad mood. He was tired from the uncomfort- 
able ride in the express coach. He looked at the grey rock, 
stroking his chin nervously with his right forefinger. His eyes 
roamed slowly over the hills. As if speaking to himself, he told 
Dr Sauer: 

*It is all very well; but I cannot see or calculate the power in 
these claims. . . . When I am in Kimberley and have nothing 
much to do, I often go and sit on the edge of De Beers mine, and 
I look at the blue diamondiferous ground . . . and I reckon up 
the value of diamonds in the blue and the power conferred by 
them. In fact, every foot of blue ground means so much power. 
This I cannot do with these gold-reefs/ 

Therein lay the contrast between the aims, mentality and 
purpose of Rhodes and those of all the other fortune-hunters 
engaged In disembowelling the African soil. They all desired 
only to make money to satisfy their greed* Money to them meant 
an elevated social position, luxury, escape from a cloudy past, 
a confirmation to themselves and to the outside world of their 
superiority. Rhodes did not aspire to any of these primitive 
ambitions. Such desires were marketable commodities within 
easy reach of any money-bag. He wanted to turn his money into 
power; power over entire countries and their inhabitants; power 
over the destiny of masses; to be a supreme law unto himself and 
to others ... to be like the great Roman emperors who set out 
as simple generals to conquer new lands and came back a Caesar, 
a God. . . . Money had first to be condensed into power before it 
was of use to Cecil Rhodes. And for this purpose money had to 

[128] 



THE FAT OF THE LrANB 

flow In without the fear of outside interference. To dig for gold 
would mean to fight. 

Before he was able to come to a definite decision., a telegram 
brought him news of a crisis in the illness of Ms young friend and 
secretary Neville Pickering who had been bed-ridden for some 
time. Pickering had been Rhodes* constant companion and on 
whom he had bestowed more confidences than on anyone else. 

Rhodes' face turned grey when he read the message. He inter- 
rupted a discussion about the Tarious options procured through 
Sauer: 

*I am off with tonight's coach. Pickering is dying/ 

'What about the options?* Sauer intervened. 'You cannot go 
now. You must wait/ 

*I must go to my friend. Get me a seat quickly/ 

There were no seats left. After a generous tip a small space was 
made for him on top of die coach, amid the mail-bags and the 
passengers' luggage. Only by holding tightly to the rope strung 
across could Rhodes get through the 3oo-mile trip, which, with 
short stops, lasted for more than fifteen hours. He came only just 
in time for his young friend to expire in his arms and to hear his 
last whispered words: 

'Thank you, Mr Rhodes. You were everything to me father, 
mother, brother, sister and friend Thank you, Mr Rhodes! . . / 

At the funeral Rhodes appeared in his usual outfit of crumpled 
stained flannel trousers, Norfolk jacket and grey slouch hat. He 
was observed to hide his tears behind a krge handkerchief. 

Rhodes now took quarters in Dr Jameson's house. Coming 
home from the cemetery he collapsed into a chair. He raised the 
glass proffered to him and said to Jameson: 

'Well, I must go on with my work. After all, a thing like this 
is only a big detail . . . only a big detail ... a big detail/ 

Telegram after telegram arrived from Sauer in Johannesburg 
frantically asking Rhodes to return or at least to wire his decision 
as most of the best options had already expired. Rhodes did not 
answer. Only after the negotiations with Barnato had been 
brought to a successful end was he disposed to look again at the 
possibilities on the Rand. His resources were all firmly invested 
in his diamond venture. Rudd was thus sent to London to find 
financial backing. Lately English investors had been pricking up 
their ears whenever they heard of new gold shares to which they 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

might subscribe. The mania of "entering on the ground floor* was 
once again being exploited by unscrupulous financiers. 

All the money needed by South Africa to build up her gold 
industry was at her disposal. Thousands streamed to the Rand, 
the pockets of many well padded with big capital, while others 
carried only letters of recommendation. Even big banks and 
private bankers in England, France and Germany,, were now 
sending out envoys to Johannesburg, Official and unofficial 
observers of governments sneaked around the Rand and tried 
to build up contacts with the Transvaal Government in 
Pretoria. 

Rhodes was no longer able to resist the magnetic attraction of 
money-making on the Rand. His optimism had been restored by 
the new connection with the Rothschilds, though his finances 
still remained precarious, with all his worldly possessions set on 
diamond amalgamation. Since others had found it so easy to have 
their more or less honest prospects financed from the pockets of 
grasping, maddened gamblers, Rudd was to raise the necessary 
capital in London. Rhodes paid his second visit to the Rand from 
where he wrote to his partner in London: 

The opinion is steadily growing that the Rand is the biggest thing 
the world has seen, owing to its wonderful climate, its facilities for 
work and its enormous auriferous deposits; it has plenty of good 
things awaiting hard work and development. 

First he tried to amalgamate the existing important claims. No 
one, however, had need of Rhodes. Gold, unlike diamonds, was 
not a speculative commodity. The price of gold was almost rigid, 
and there was no danger of under-selling. All the big producers 
were already linked with international financial institutions or 
private financiers so that fresh funds for expansion were always 
easily found. 

His pockets empty and his credit exhausted to the last penny, 
Rhodes, with the genius of a 'superb adventurer', as a colleague 
later described him, founded in the most grandiose style a new 
company, The Gold Fields of South Africa, later called The 
Amalgamated Gold Fields of South Africa. The modest capital 
of 125,000 Rudd procured in London. Within a short time the 
capital was raised to well over i million. 

Rhodes on his second visit started to buy knd. He made his 



THE FAT OF THE LAND 

purchases mostly on the West Rand and went farther afield than 
any other speculators had done. 

The farmers had now learnt to ask high prices, At the sale of 
one property, the farmer, after the price had been fixed, came with 
several flower-pots of miserable geraniums. The man insisted that 
they were the property of his vrou and would have to be paid for 
separately. Rhodes had to pay several thousand pounds "the 
most expensive flowers in the world, worth a place in Kew 
Gardens*. 

A few thousand pounds more, what did it matter and who 
cared! The mugs of shareholders would have to pay for it! Each 
of the newly-acquired properties was formed into a separate 
company. Having thus financed the purchase of several large 
gold-bearing properties, or at least where optimistically he 
thought gold ought to be found an assumption kter proved in 
many cases to have been fallacious Rhodes now topped his 
financial ingenuity. After the model of De Beers, he converted 
Amalgamated Gold Fields into a 'holding company* which bought 
the shares of all his other gold holdings. Again, as in Kinibedey, 
Rhodes and Rudd received founders' shares reserving for them- 
selves one-third of all profits. His gold-fields, by acquiring from 
time to time share majorities in other companies, soon ranked 
second among the Big Ten of the Rand. 

The court's objections to the deed of trust of De Beers on the 

grounds that the company could *do anything and everything * 

were even more tenable in the case of Rhodes* Goldfields 
Company. Here he alone was master and no Lord Rothschild 
could raise a warning hand and quote to him some paragraphs 
from the Company Laws. 

The formation of two such formidable corporations had made 
Rhodes a rich man, whose exact fortune it was already difficult 
to gauge because of the many holdings in his various companies 
and their subsidiaries. His income of several hundred thousand 
pounds, of which he did not use more than 3,000 a year & 
increased from year to year. 

Rhodes considered this fortunate turn in his affairs as a natural 
step towards his final aim, and regarded all the money which 
flowed into his hands as the necessary ammunition for conquering 
the North. There was only one obstacle in Ms way: Paul Kruger, 
the President of the South African Republic. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Kruger was extremely alarmed about the influx into his terri- 
tory of foreigners in such large numbers. These Uitlanders could 
easily endanger the whole structure of the thinly populated 
republic whose white population of not more than 12,000 voters 
would soon be exceeded by the increasing number of rooineks 
'red necks' the name given to foreigners, not yet acclimatized 
to the South African sun. To him it meant more than the political 
consequences: he feared the moral infection of his burghers 
through the infiltration of foreign elements. Johannesburg in 
the third year of its existence already had a population of over 
10,000* 

In his predicament Kruger asked President Brand of the 
Orange Free State for advice, who told him: 'Make friends with 
your UitdandersP As far as the needs of the gold-mining industry 
were concerned, the Transvaal Government granted alt possible 
facilities. The Times in 1888, in a dispatch from its Johannesburg 
correspondent, spoke of 'President Kruger's remarkable common 
sense and whose dealings with the crowd of newcomers to the 
gold-fields are both wise and liberal". Another article, from a 
different source, said that the English on the Rand would rather 
live under the Transvaal authority, in spite of rising taxes, than 
under the restored rule of the British Crown, remembering with 
bitterness the 'faithless desertion by Gkdsone in 1881*. 

The mine-owners, however, continued to grumble and were 
always bringing forward new demands. Kruger suspected, and 
his suspicions were well founded, that Rhodes stood behind these 
malcontents. He had not forgotten the humiliation he had suffered 
at the conference at Fourteen Streams. He grew alarmed when 
Rhodes suddenly came to him and asked him about an extension 
of the Cape Railways to the Transvaal and a rail link between the 
Rand and Delagoa Bay. Kruger feared a new device for throttling 
the TransvaaPs freedom of movement. He also warned everyone 
in his capital against the serious consequences of selling property 
to Rhodes, whose agents, authorized to invest more than ^100,000 
for this purpose, were trying their best to buy land and house 
property in Pretoria. No one dared to transgress the President's 
warning. 

Kruger had acceded to the demands of the mining industry as 
much as he could but refused categorically to consider their 
political grievances, particularly their claims to a franchise for 



THE FAT OF THE LAND 

which a few had asked At a banquet in Johannesburg he said 
with his eyes on Rhodes: 

. * Wealth cannot break laws. Though a man has a million pounds 
he cannot alter the law. ... Is it a good man who wants to be master 
of the country, when others have been suffering for twenty years 
to conduct its affairs? ... It is the unthankful people to whom I 
have given protection who are always dissatisfied, and, what is more, 
they actually want me to alter my laws to suit them. . . , 

Rhodes understood that this warning was directed against him. 
He made a scornful and tactless reply in the Cape Parliament. 
Speaking about the extension of railways, he said: 

. . . We can extend fifty miles to the Vaal River, but by doing so 
at present we shall probably excite the animosity of an individual, 
for one of the most extraordinary things in that republican state 
is the extraordinary influence of that one man I refer to Paul 
Kruger. I say it with all respect, that man is the dictator of the 
Transvaal. ... I regard him as one of the most remarkable men in 
South Africa, who has been singularly unfortunate. When I remem- 
ber that Paul Kruger had not a- sixpence in his Treasury when his 
object was to extend his country over the whole Northern interior, 
when I see him sitting in Pretoria with Bechuanaland gone, and 
other lands around him gone from his grasp ... I pity the man* 
When I see a man starting and continuing with one object and 
utterly failing in that object, I cannot help pitying him. 

Kruger sat on his sfoep in the early morning, listening with 
closed eyes while his secretary read to him the translation of this 
speech. He took the heavy vellum-bound Bible from the table 
and thumbed through its pages until he came to Psalm 5, which 
he read aloud: 

Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! 
many are they that rise up against me. . . . 

When he had finished, he leaned over the book and for many 
a minute he did not speak. His inflamed wise little eyes looked 
over the emptiness of the square in front of his house, and he 
thought he saw the land, the heavy obstinate holy soil of the 
Transvaal, the beloved land which his father, his brothers and 

[133] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

he himself had conquered step by step under tortuous privations 
and sacrifices; the blessed fertile soil which had to be defended 
continually against the ragings of the elements; the blissful soil 
sanctified by the blood of his brethren, . . . 

Without changing his position he said to his secretary: 
*Qns Voortrekkers^het die land skoongemaak*, ons is geregtig tot die vet 
van die land. . . / (*Our pioneers cleared the land; we are entitled 
to the fat of the land/) And falling again into silent meditation 
he finally stretched his enormous torso to its full length. Tears 
ran down his cheeks as he spoke with thunderous voice as if 
addressing the entire assembled nation- The truth of his wise 
words of prophecy were soon to become evident to the whole 
world and to show the tragedy of a great, simple man and his 
heroic freedom-loving people: 

Do not talk to me of gold, the element which brings more dissen- 
sion, misfortune and unexpected plagues in its trail than benefits. 
Pray to God, as I am doing, that the curse connected with its coming 
may not overshadow our dear land just after it has come again to 
us and our children; pray and implore Him who has stood by us, 
that He will continue to do so, for I tell you today that every ounce 
of gold taken fro m the bowels of our soil mil jet ham to be weighed up with 
rivers of tears ^ with the life-blood of thousands of our best people in the 
defence of that same soil from the lust of others yearning jar it solely because 
it has the yellow metal in abundance. . . . 



CHAPTER IX 

KING OF THE MATABELE 

TT7<& duba^ wa duba sebekl they give me trouble; they truly 
give me trouble/ The words come from the depth of 
a burdened heart. The King closes his eyes. The King's coun- 
sellors, the indunaSj all elderly men, nod their heads in con- 
firmation. 

From the back of the assembly the King's official praisers strike 
up their song of adulation: e je 9 bay, bay^ oh Lobengula, King of 
the Matabele and Master of the Mashona, Son of Umziligazi, the 
Drinker of Blood, child of the Great House of Kumaio, the House 
of Dingaan, King of the Zulus, Calf of a Black Cow, Man Eater, 
Lion, thou art as great as the world. . . .* 

'HambagMe depart in peace/ said the King, and he dismissed 
the crowd around him. 

Salaguhk, kMmalo stay in peace, oh King! Baytte, bajete salute 
to the King!" 

Only three old men, his chief counsellors, Lotje, Babyaan and 
Umsheti, remained. They shook their heads. Was it possible, as 
the King had told them, that these big white chiefs were waiting 
in the kraal for many moons to obtain the King's permission to 
dig for gold in his lands? 

6 Mai bab&tjOyjo gbo Mother of Angels, listen to this madness!* 
cried the eldest of tiie three counsellors as he helped his master 
from his usual seat for state occasions the coachman's box of 
a big wagon, a present from one of the traders. 

The King slept inside this wagon although he owned several' 
large huts and a roomy red-brick house. In one of his huts there 
hung a large oleograph in a fly-spotted gilt ornamental frame, 
showing the Great White Queen bedecked with pearls, diamonds 
and orders and with the royal crown on her head. In one corner 
stood two krge battered rusty biscuit-tins, loosely covered 
by their lids. "Those silly glass-pebbles' with which the tins 
were filled to the brim were often brought to the women's 
kraal for the children to play with. Every Matabele whom the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

King allowed to go and work In the Big Hole of the white 
men had to bring him back a big diamond stone on his return. 
No white man ever saw this treasure, but it is estimated that 
the King must have owned diamonds worth more than 5 
million. 

It took some time until the King had descended from the 
wagon-box to the ground. His enormous weight of almost 
300 pounds was less evident when he stood upright. His height 
of six feet four Inches and his erect carriage made the enormity 
of his figure appear proportionate. Upon this heavy, gigantic 
body, which was naked except for a short breech-cloth of blue 
monkey-skin, rested a finely modelled head with the features of 
a remarkable man, whose eyes Indicated a vivid intelligence, iron 
energy and a forceful character. 

Lobengula was a monarch In every respect. Even his white 
adversaries, missionaries, unsuccessful concession-hunters, dis- 
appointed speculators or hunters and traders whom he had 
refused to 'give the road' through his country, admitted it. 

Lobengula had been made king against his own will. When his 
father died, the eldest son who had been brought up by missionaries 
in Natal was unwilling to return to become king. He feared for 
his life because the majority of the Matabele objected to him as 
their ruler: 'Why bring him back? Will a baboon reared in the 
domesticity of the white man ever be rid of the smell of the white 
man? 5 They clamoured for Lobengula who vehemently refused to 
reign. He would have preferred to rear cattle, a love which remained 
with him to the end. As king he spent much of his time supervising 
his stock. Lobengula was probably the greatest cattle-owner of his 
time. For his stock which was calculated to amount to 500,000 
beasts he used his whole country as grazing ground. He would 
rather have remained with his cattle than be disturbed by the 
heavy royal duties. He foresaw the difficulties awaiting him 
among his own people and he also knew that the White Man 
was pushing farther north. He felt that the time was near when 
the Matabele would have to defend their country against a white 
Invasion. 

His father already had had to learn that the Transvaal Boers had 
cast their eyes on the fat pastures of Matabeleland. He had been a 
general In the Zulu King Chaka's army. Chaka, jealous of 
victories and popularity among the troops, had 
[138] 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

quarrelled with him and Umaligaa had left Zululand together 
with Ms warriors. His aim had been to settle peacefully in the 
Marico valley after he had beaten all opposition of local tribes along 
his way, The Boers came and drove him farther north until, in 
1 8 3 8 3 he settled between the Limpopo and the Zambesi. Umaligajzi 
and his warriors had had to beat their way yard by yard until they 
reached the airy plateau of Matabeleland with its endless green 
cattle-thronged stretches of land, blessed with a rich virgin soil, 
many streams and good rains. Before the Matabele had been able 
to settle, the neighbouring tribes, the Mashonas, Makkas and 
Maholi, had to be taught e to get up and let them sit down*. The 
Barotse too had to learn that just as the House of Kurnalo was the 
indisputable ruler of Zululand, so its branch under Umaligaa was 
determined to become and to remain the dominant power between 
the Limpopo and the Zambezi. The annual raids into the neigh- 
bouring districts served as a reminder of this resolution to the 
tribes around them. Though the Matabele had established them- 
selves as what in European diplomatic language would have been 
styled the paramount power* among the Native states north of 
the Limpopo, Lobengula feared clashes with the Boers. His father 
had hoped that after the Matabele had retreated beyond the 
Limpopo they would be allowed to remain in the new country 
in peace. He therefore in 1853 gladly concluded a treaty of 
friendship with the Transvaal. Lobengula,, with an instinctive 
political sense, surmised that the land-hungry Boers would sooner 
or later, in spite of the still-existing treaty, seize Mashonaland 
which, though not incorporated in their country, belonged to the 
Matabele as a conquered and occupied territory. Another grave 
cause for anxiety was the discovery of gold in the rocks of his 
country. 

Already in his father's time Matabeleland had attracted many 
white men who crawled in the royal kraal 'like locusts'. In the 
first years of his rule Lobengula categorically refused permission 
to many white people to prospect for gold in his territories. Only 
in 1876, upon the recommendation of the missionary Robert 
Moffat the only faithful friend the Matabele nation ever had 
among all the many white men with whom they came into contact, 
a man of sterling qualities, a true Christian, a real friend of 
Umziligazfs for 23 years did Lobengula grant a concession to 
one Tom Baines, an explorer and artist who had accompanied 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Livingstone at the time of his discovery of the Victoria Falls. In 

this document Lobengula took the greatest care to safeguard his 

sovereign rights: 

10 making this grant I, Lobengula, do not alienate from my 
kingdom this or any other portion of it; but reserve intact the 

sovereignty of my dominion. . . . 

Lobengula declined to name an amount to be paid for the rights 
granted but left it to the judgment of Mr Baines, *the good white 
man, to make me annually . . , such present as might seem proper 
to him and acceptable to me 5 . 

The concession was never used. 

All Lobcngula's fears turned to fact and much worse and much 
sooner even than he had expected. It had started in 1882 when the 
Transvaal Boers* prompted by President Kruger's prophetic fore- 
bodings of a coming British push north, tried unsuccessfully to 
persuade Lobengula to enter into a new treaty with them. 
At his instigation P. J. Joubert, his Commandant-General, wrote 
to Lobengula warning him of the danger to his country from 
Britalt^ thus trying to entice him into renewing the treaty of thirty- 
two years before. This letter was a masterpiece of psychological 
understanding of the primitive yet shrewd political mentality of 
a Native ruler: 

. . . Now, you must have heard that the English . . , took away our 
country, the Transvaal, or as they say, annexed it. We then talked 
nicely for four years and begged for our country. But no; when an 
Englishman once has your property in his hand, then he is like a 
monkey that has its hands full of pumpkin seeds if you don't beat 
Mm to death, he will never let go. ... Now they are gone, and our 
country is free, and we will now once more live in friendship with 
Lobengula, as we lived in friendship with Umziligazi, and such must 
be our friendship, that so long as there is one Boer and one Matabele 
living these two must remain friends. . . . 

And at the end there came an indirect warning against any raids 
which Lobengula might be planning against the Transvaal, 
referring to what happened to another Native chief who tried to 
fight the Boers and had to pay a fine of 5,000 cattle and 4,000 

E 



KING OF THE MATABEI.E 

sheep and goats c for Ms wickedness". Lobengula assured the Boers 
of a renewal of their old friendship and told them that if hunters 
wanted to kill elephants or any Boer wished to graze his cattle for 
a short time on his pastures, they should ask him for permission 
and he would 'give them the road'. But never, never, would he 
allow a Boer to enter Ms country accompanied by a wom&n or 
permit anyone to build a hut there. 

Three years later Lobengula was again keeping a wary eye on 
the Boers for Kruger had now cast Ms eyes, as Lobengula had 
predicted, on Mashonaland, and was plotting with the Germans 
and Portuguese to *eat up* Ms territory. 

The climax to all Ms fears came when he heard that an impi of 
the Great WMte Queen consisting of many thousands of her men, 
led by one of her great indunas, General Warren, and under the 
guidance of her counsellor, the *Man who made the Big Hole at 
Kimberley*, had subdued the Bechuanas and was standing on the 
borders of Matabeleland. When would the time come for Ms 
country to be eaten up by the Great WMte Queen whose insatiable 
greed had akeady devoured the land of the Zulus the home of 
Ms noble ancestors and of the Swazis, the Griquas, the Xosas, 
the Basutos and the Tongas. * . ? 

Lobengula's fears were well founded. From Bechuanaland 
General Warren had sent emissaries into Matabeleland who 
reported about the great wealth and trade possibilities offered by 
tMs commercially virginal country. When tMs report was published 
in The Times, City merchants pricked up their ears. 

Lobengula's information about a conspiracy between the Boers, 
the Germans and the Portuguese to gain a footing in Ms territories 
also proved to be true. Warren, in Ms dispatch to WMtehall, 
enclosed a communication from Ms agent in Bechuanaland, dated 
May 1885. 

The Boers are determined to get a footing in Mashonaland ... by 
thus taking the Matabele on the flank, and gradually acquiring their 
territory by conquest, thence overspreading all the independent 
tribes to the west and south of here. I have also good proof that the 
Germans and Portuguese are working quietly but slowly to acquire 
as much of these knds and the Transvaal under their protection as 
occasion will allow of, and believe that they, as well as the Boers and 
other nations, are only waiting to hear what action the British 
Government will take to settle on their *own. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

News of these Northern ambitions of the Boers had not come 
as a surprise to London's Colonial Office. At the conference 
preceding the London Convention of 1 884 Paul Kruger had made 
no secret of the fact that the Transvaal would now be forced to 
look to the North for expansion, and no objection had been 
raised from the British side. 

Lobengula, realizing his impotence in the face of aggression, 
had to sit and wait for further developments for two years, 
expecting any day that his and his nation's last hour was about 
to strike. 

From visiting missionaries, hunters and traders he learnt of the 
happenings in southern Africa and was able to gain a fairly 
accurate picture of the African political scene. 

The defeat of the British army at Majuba at the hands of the 
Boers and the long and brave resistance of the Zulus against the 
British led Lobengula to believe that the Great White Queen was 
perhaps after aE not so powerful as the missionaries had always 
led him to believe. Under this delusion, and principally to safe- 
guard himself from an attack by the Transvaal in the rear, he 
thought that a consolidation of friendship with the Boers would 
avert the catastrophe looming over his country. 

President Kruger was enthusiastic and without losing time 
drafted a treaty which would make Lobengula an ally of the 
Transvaal and would oblige him, if requested, to put his impis 
under the command of the Boers. It also made provision for a 
Transvaal official to be permanently stationed at the royal kraal 
as consul with extra-territorial rights. 

As the first occupant of this post President Kruger imme- 
diately dispatched to Bulawayo to obtain Lobengula's signature 
to the treaty one of his confidantes, Pieter Grobler. 

If ever Kraget's treaty was translated to Lobengula it must 
have been in such a way as to make him believe that it contained 
nothing more than a confirmation of the old treaty of friendship 
which he himself had renewed in 1882. Had he known the real 
and far-reaching obligations to which this document committed 
him, he would never have put his great elephant-seal to it. 

It was said at the time that if President Kruger sneezed in 
Pretoria, Cecil Rhodes heard it in his office in Kimberley* Rhodes 
very soon knew about the negotiations with Lobengula: Kruger 
was entering the North by a back doorl It would have to be 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

prevented at all costs. And when Rhodes said alP that was just 
what he meant. 

'You must do something!* he implored Sir Hercules Robinson, 
without yet knowing what it was that he wanted to be done. 

Sir Hercules had received strict instructions from Whitehall 
not to involve Her Majesty's Government in any new African 
adventures or experiments. The trouble and money squandered 
on waging war in the Transvaal, in Bechuanaknd, in Zululand 
and on other smaller expeditions had for the time being cured both 
parties in Parliament of colonial imperialism. No cabinet, whether 
sailing under the Tory or the Whig flag, would risk exposing itself 
to a censure of its colonial policy. British intervention inMatabele- 
land was thus out of the question. The Transvaal, as Robinson 
pointed out, had so far acted perfectly within the frame of the 
London Convention according to which she was at liberty to 
conclude treaties with Native tribes in the North without having 
to ask Britain's consent. 

Sir Hercules declared that all he could do to help Rhodes in 
shutting out the Boers from the North was to block their last re- 
maining entry into Matabeland. The boundary between Bechuana- 
land and the Transvaal had not yet been fixed* The High 
Commissioner could declare that part of Bechuanaland through 
which ran the direct road from Pretoria to Bulawayo as 'exclusively 
within the sphere of British influence'. This small geographical 
correction would complete the lock-out of the Transvaal from 
the North. But Rhodes did not consider this sufficient since it 
left the possibility of an alliance between Lobengula and Germany 
or Portugal. 

Sir Hercules had become more cautious since Lord Salisbury 
had replaced Gladstone as tenant of No* 10 Downing Street. He 
told Rhodes: 

*To have secured Bechuanaland., well, I think that's enough/ 

Rhodes gave Robinson a glassy look, then took him by the 
arm and led him to the window. 

*Do come with me and look at the blockhouse at Table 
Mountain/ he spluttered excitedly in his high-pitched voice. 
Those good old people, 200 years ago, thought that blockhouse 
at Table Mountain was the limit of their ideas, but now let us 
face it today. Where are we? We are considerably beyond the 
Vaal River, and supposing that those good people were to come 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

to life again today, what would they think of It and their block- 
house? . . . Sir, will yon consider, during the period you have 
been the representative of Her Majesty in this colony, what have 
you done? We are now on latitude 22.* 

*And what a trouble it has been! But where will you stop?' 

*I will stop where the country has not been claimed/ 

*Let us look at the map/ 

Rhodes, with trembling finger, pointed at the southern border. 
of Tanganyika. Before Sir Hercules could express his disapproval 
Rhodes cut in: 

*The Great Powers at home mark the map but do nothing to 
add to it. ... Let us try to mark the map, and we know that we 
shall do something.' 

'Well, I think, you should be satisfied with the Zambezi as a 
boundary/ 

'Let us take a piece of note-paper, and let us measure from the 
blockhouse to the Vaal River; that is the individual effort of the 
people. Now let us measure what you have done in your temporary 
existence, and then we shall finish by measuring up my imagina- 
tions/ 

*I shall leave you alone! No one can resist you/ 

Sir Hercules' only stipulation referred to any expenses arising 
from a treaty with Lobengula, which would have to be borne by 
Rhodes. 

In many offices of the colonial administration in South Africa 
key positions were in the hands of intimate friends of Rhodes* 
from his Oxford days. The most useful of them at that moment 
was his friend Sir Sidney Shippard, the Administrator of the new 
Crown Colony of Bechuanaland. He would have to deal officially 
with matters concerning Matabeleland. Another of his Oxford 
pals was Captain Francis Newton, who held the important position 
of Private Secretary to the Governor and High Commissioner. In 
Pretoria, as Her Majesty's Agent accredited to the South African 
Republic, another Oxford friend, Ralph Williams, kept him well 
posted about everything going on there. With Captain Graham 
Bower, the Imperial Secretary and Sir Hercules' right hand, he 
was on the best of terms since they had combined in intriguing 
against General Warren during the Bechuanaland affair. And 
Sir Hercules Robinson was a shareholder in De Beersl 

For the negotiations with Lobengula, Rhodes hit on the idea 

[i44] 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

of winning over the Reverend J. S. Moffkt 3 son of the friend of 
the Matabele, the famous missionary Robert Moffat. Moffat had 
grown up in Matabeleknd and since his boyhood *Joni* had been 
Lobengula's friend. The king was very fond of * Joni* and looked 
upon him as one of his own- 
Sir Sidney SMppard agreed with Rhodes 5 suggestion to entrust 
Moffat with the negotiations with Lobengula so as to counteract 
Kruger's clever ruse of planting a consul at Bulawayo, Shippard 
suggested that the reverend gentleman stay there In a permanent 
capacity as Her Majesty's Deputy Commissioner. From a humble 
servant of the Lord, preaching the gospel of brotherly love to the 
heathen, Moffat thus underwent a metamorphosis and turned 
Into a civil servant of Her Majesty the Queen, with orders to 
bring to an unsuspecting black-skinned ruler the blessings of 
European civilization. One cannot help doubting whether the 
ex-reverend gentleman informed his black royal friend about his 
professional change when he came to see him* His first task, that 
of nullifying the Grobler Treaty by convincing Lobengula that he 
had been deceived by the Boers, met with no great difficulties. 
But after that experience of the falsehood of the white man It 
was small wonder that Lobengula refused point-blank to sign any 
other treaty. 

For many days Moffat talked, as Lobengula called It, c like a 
hungry dog barking at the meat on a high table'. After one such 
long indaba y doubts about *JoniV honesty began to rise In 
Lobengula' s mind. 

He ended their discussion with the proverb: 
'Afaiqili la^ikhotW emblana there is no clever person who ever 
licked himself on the back/ 

With his knowledge of Zulu, Moffat understood the meaning: 
if a cunning fellow attempted too much he would in the end be 
found out when trying the impossible. 

Moffat could not return with empty hands. His official reputa- 
tion, his future, was at stake. He again went to see the king and 
told him that politeness between monarchs on being offered a 
treaty required at least an answer by letter and that the king 
should have one written to the Great White Queeo, stating his 
reasons for the refusal of her offer. When, on the next day, 
ii Feburary 1888, Lobengula fixed his great elephant-seal to a 
sheet of papet brought to him by MoSat, he was firmly convinced 

[1453 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

that he was signing a letter merely expressing Ms regrets that 
he was unable to enter into a treaty with the Queen's 
Government. 

The document, brought proudly back to Cape Town by the 
ex-missionary, enchanted his masters beyond all expectations. It 
contained what was naively described by the authorities as c a 
compact of perpetual amity with the Great White Queen*. Its 
final sentence robbed a free country of its sovereignty for ever: 

... It is hereby further agreed by Lobengula ... on behalf of 
Mmself and his people, that he will refrain from entering into any 
correspondence or treaty with any foreign State or Power to sell, 
alienate or cede, or permit, or countenance any sale, alienation, or 
cession of the whole or any part of the said Matabele country under 
his chieftainship, or upon any other subject without the previous 
knowledge and sanction of Her Majesty's High Commissioner for 
South Africa. . . . 

Mr Moffat knew what he had done. When presenting this 
ominous document to his chief, he thrust out his chest and said 
with obvious satisfaction: 

'The days of the Matabele are now numbered! * 

President Kruger had been officially informed by the High 
Commissioner of the agreement with Lobengula, and imme- 
diately protested verbally to the British Agent that the British 
Treaty was void as it was contradictory to his own earlier agree- 
ment with Lobengula. Reserving all his rights he promised a 
written reply in due course. Probably he wanted to wait for 
a report from Consul Grobler, who was just leaving for Bulawayo, 
the Matabele King's royal kraaL 

On his previous journey to and from Lobengula, Grobler had, 
with the King's permission, used the old direct road from Pretoria 
to Bulawayo. Through the High Commissioner's suddenly im- 
posed frontier regulations, this road had in the meanwhile fallen 
for the greater part to the Bechuanaland Protectorate in the 
territory of the Paramount Chief Khama. Moffat, under instruc- 
tions from Cape Town, impressed on Khama the importance of 
safeguarding his right of way to the whole road and of allowing 
no one to pass without his, Khama's, permission. 

When Grobler, with Lobengula's permission to 'take the 
road* as before, travelled with his party along this road, he was 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

ambushed and mortally wounded. As President Kruger could not 
make investigations in the territory of a British Protectorate he 
had to content himself with the British explanation that the 
incident had been caused by a petty chief and that IGiama would 
pay Grobler's widow an annual pension of 200. 

It was clear to everyone in Pretoria, in Bulawayo and in the 
neighbouring German and Portuguese territories that the only 
party who would benefit by preventing Grobler from taking up 
his appointment was one man: Cecil J. Rhodes. 

The murder on his territory of a white man, an induna of the 
Boers, whom he had assured only recently of the friendship of 
the Matabele upset Lobengula. He liked white men and as long 
as they complied with his rule and did not interfere with the ways 
and customs of his people, he did not object to their coming to 
hunt or trade in his country. Some of them, like the Scotsman 
James Dawson, possessed his full confidence and were often 
consulted by him. He even gave his Great Seal into Dawson's 
custody. Besides the welcome residents, the traders and hunters, 
Lobengula's kraal also served as a haven to a great number of 
shady elements, white, black and brown fugitives escaping from 
the law of the Cape, Natal or the two Boer Republics. Lobengula 
described these white hangers-on as *my white dogs' or as 
Mmfago^ana low fellows who are no gentlemen*. He knew how 
to handle them. 

All Ms experience came to naught however, when his kraal 
became crowded with a type of white man new to him: the 
concession-hunters. The worries arising out of the treaty which 
his false friend 'Joni* Moffat had wormed out of him in February 
1888 were still rotating in his tortured brain when fresh trouble 
started with the arrival of white men who asked for something 
which his simple mind could not grasp: concessions of land, his 
land; concessions to dig for gold; concessions of roads; concessions 
. . . concessions . . , concessions. . * . 

To a tribal Native the idea of private ownership of land was as 
inconceivable as the idea that someone owned the sun, the rain 
or the water in a well. None of the white men who came to 
Lobengula with the intention of exploiting Matabeleland least 
of all Rhodes realized that their request for land to dig for gold 
appeared to the Matabele mind as nonsensical as would to us a 
Tibetan monk asking the Queen of England for permission to 

[147] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



buy the moon and offering to pay for It with cowrie shells. But 
who bothered to investigate the Matabele mind? 



k&egeja lishisa I am sitting upon the hot Iron 
of a hoe/ the King said, and sighed deeply as he descended from 
his wagon after an inddba on that summer day in 1 888* As was the 
wont of his people, he clad his thoughts In an old Zulu proverb. 
Old Babyaan replied with another: 

*Aku langa lishona lingenandabo %alo no sun sets without its 
troubles/ 

Again the King sighed. 

^Ukufa k^enhli^iyo ngum^wangedwa deatih. of the heart is felt 
only by oneself/ 

The King and his three counsellors recapitulated the events 
which had led to the present climacteric position in the seventeenth 
year of Lobengula's reign. 

When Lobengula came to speak of the negotiations about the 
gold concessions, repeating the arguments over and over again 
while pouring down big calabashes full of beer, he could find no 
way out and could only chime in with the sighs of his advisers 
and cry out again and again, parrot-like: 

'Mat bah, jo, jo gho Mother of Ghosts, listen to this madness P 

For him there was no choice, he knew. What he would not 
give, would be taken from him by force. They did not need to tell 
him what a strong man Rhodes was. Yet his last representative, 
Mr John Fry, had not much impressed Mm as the emissary of 
a great chief. 

Fry had not seen much of the king. Soon he had had to leave 
Bulawayo because of ill-health and shortly after his return to 
Kimberley he died. He had to be replaced immediately. The 
greatest haste was Imperative, Rhodes was not, he knew, alone 
in the race. The royal kraal swarmed with concession-hunters. 

*I must not leave a vacuum there I must not leave a vacuum/ 
Rhodes squeaked repeatedly. The word Vacuum' became his 
favourite expression for the next few weeks. If he could only go 
himself to Bulawayo to conclude the deal with Lobengula. 
Because of the importance and urgency of the mission it was 
decided that his partner Rudd should go though Rhodes knew 
that he was not really suited for this sort of business. Rndd was 
too honest, too correct, too hidebound for the job and would 

[ 148 ] 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

need the assistance of someone with more push. Rhodes* choice 
fell on Frank R. Thompson, whom he already knew as an excep- 
tionally capable young man who had accompanied Warren on his 
expedition and had on that occasion spent some time In Matabele- 
land where he had quickly become popular with Lobenguia, As 
the third member of the party Rhodes selected an old friend of Ms 
university days, the learned, dapper Irishman Thomas R. Maguire, 
a Fellow of All Souls College, who had won fame at Oxford as 
an athlete, a double-first scholar, a dandy, and a great debater. 

In September 1888 the triumvirate of Rhodes' envoys arrived 
in Bulawayo. It did not take them long to find out that they had 
the entire royal kraal, from Lobengula down to the lowest slave, 
against them. 

The greatest resistance, working from underground, came from 
their numerous competitors. Englishmen, Cape Colonials^ Boers, 
Portuguese and Germans, who all had their tents pitched or their 
wagons stationed around Rudd's camp. Among them there 
figured prominently E. A. Maund, the agent of the Exploring 
Company, a syndicate of wealthy London merchants backed by 
a few tided people and with excellent connexions In parliamen- 
tary and governmental circles. No new-comer to Matabeleland, 
'Maundy* was a favourite of Lobenguk's, their friendship dating 
back to the days of the Warren expedition to Bechuanaland. 
During that time there also was born Maund's hatred for Rhodes, 
which he dutifully had to share with his commander. Here now 
was Maund^s opportunity: if he himself could not wrest a gold 
concession from the King, he could at least bring all his influence 
to bear upon 'Lob' to frustrate Rhodes. 

An opponent of no less strength and burning with an equal 
hatred for Rhodes was Mr E. R. Renny-Tailyour, the representa- 
tive of Edward A. Lippert, a cousin of Beit's. Renny-Tailyour's 
antagonism came to Rhodes by proxy: Lippert had fallen out with 
cousin Beit whom he had cheated in some business deaL Later 
Beit had refused help when Lippert had come into financial 
difficulties. Whenever there was an opportunity Lippert delighted 
in annoying his cousin, and this family squabble he extended with 
the same intensity to Rhodes. Behind Lippert there stood a group 
of German banks* 

Including these, the most important competitors, there were all 
told the representatives of eleven different groups in the field 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

racing for Lobengula ? s favour. Just after the arrival of Rudd's 
party there appeared on the scene the Anglican Bishop of 
Bloemfontein. In the bishop's company travelled a mysterious 
German, Count Pfeil. It was not difficult to notice that the 
monocled count would have been more at ease In the uniform of 
a Potsdam guards officer. He emphasized rather too loudly his 
civilian status and the fact that he was there only on a hunting- 
trip. It seemed strange that the count had spent many weeks in 
Pretoria where he must have bagged less trophies than Intrigues. 
He had preferred to travel over longer routes rather than pass 
through British territory. All this seemed very suspicious and the 
more so when Thompson found out that the count was well 
equipped with all the utensils for prospecting, assessing and 
surveying. 

Lobengula now began to enjoy the presence of the many white 
men In his kraal because their homage flattered his vanity. Their 
presents he welcomed greedily and had no wish to stop their 
flow. He therefore kept up all their hopes, so that they all became 
convinced that they had almost reached thcif goal. 

It was no easy life to attend Lobengula 3 s court as a petitioner. 
Rudd and Thompson, accustomed to roughing it after their many 
years of camp life, did not suffer as much as did Maguire, who 
hated the discomforts of outdoor life. Lobengula took delight in 
humiliating all foreigners by insisting on their strict adherence to 
his court etiquette. His audiences took place in the big dung- 
covered buck-kraal; his guests had to approach him crawling on 
their stomachs and had then to squat for many hours, unprotected 
from the full glare of an almost tropical sun, 

At every audience they had to go through the ordeal of eating 
each two big platters of half-roasted meat covered with myriads 
of fat flies and of swallowing two calabashes full of lukewarm 
Native beer. Then there came the nerve-racking tribulations of 
endless heckling and arguing with Lobengula, of being exposed 
for hours on end to his cross-examination. 

At every Interview Lobengula would come out with the same 
question: 

*You are sure you are not coming after grass and land?* And 
every time Thompson would reply: 

'No, King! No; it is minerals we want* We are not Boers; we 
have no cattle to feed/ 




Sir Leander Starr Jameson 




Bulawayo. The famous Indaba tree under which Lobengula dispensed justice 
From an old photograph 




Lobengula, King of the Matabele. One of 
the few extant photographs, as he was 
suspicious of the 'Evil Eye' of the camera 



KING OF THE MATABELE 



Lobengula preferred Thompson, who spoke Ms language 
whom he trusted to a certain extent, to the other applicants. 
'TomosT was in Ms eyes the perfect gentleman, the only one who 
had never told a lie, in contrast to all the others who "had spoken 
with two tongues in their mouth*. 

To destroy his doubts Thompson gave the King an affidavit 
on oath in Ms capacity as Justice of the Peace of Her Majesty the 
Queen that Rhodes did not aspire to Lobenguk's land. 

TMs sworn declaration was given by Thompson in the best of 
faith, relying on Rhodes" repeated assurances and Ms written 
instructions on that point. 

The negotiations went on for more than a month- Rudd 
did not despair. He was not deceived when he placed Ms hopes 
on Rhodes finally supplying him with the sword to cut the 
Gordian knot. Excitement mounted in the royal kraal when it 
was announced that Sir Sidney SMppard, the Commissioner for 
Bechuanaland, would be arriving together with Ms deputy, the 
ex-missioi*ary John Moflat. Tension increased when reports 
arrived from the frontier that SMppard was escorted by an impi 
of the Great WMte Queen's soldiers, led by a very big indma* 
The Queen's envoy seemed in such a hurry that he travelled even 
through the night, 'when', as Lobengula observed bitterly, 'only 
beasts and ghosts should be abroad'. Lobengula detested SMp- 
pard, who was known among some Native tribes as Marana maka 9 
Father of Lies. 

Though the sudden arrival of the Queen's representative 
brought all the fears he had accumulated during the last few 
years to a state of panic, the King exercised the greatest self- 
control and received Ms guest with all the honours due to so 
Mgh a personality. Although the mercury had almost reached the 
top of the thermometer, Sir Sidney, conscious of the importance 
of Ms mission, appeared at the ceremonial reception strictly 
according to WMtehall etiquette in striped trousers, frock-coat 
and stiffly starched collar and shirt. When he late*? took off Ms 
suffocating official dress and changed into the cooler colonial 
garb, he also changed, unknown to Lobengula, from the repre- 
sentative of Her Majesty the Queen to the secret agent and 
accomplice of Cecil Rhodes. 

SMppard quickly came to the point: he had heard that the King 
was much molested by concession-hunters and he wanted to let 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Lobengula know that *they were not in any way connected or 
authorized by Her Majesty's Government'. 

must have briefed SMppard carefully. In this way they 
would the wind out of Maund's sails, who, Rhodes feared, 

trying to beat him at his own game, having led Lobengula 
to believe that the Colonial Office favoured Maund's syndicate. 
"Great Britain*, Shippard continued, *is not in any way concerned 
with either mining schemes or trading ventures and you may be 
quite certain that any private concession-seeker who professes to 
represent the British Government is trying to deceive you/ After 
a week Shippard left. To Lobengula's astonishment Moffat also 
went a few days later. 

Activity in the royal kraal now became feverish. Every day for 
hours Lobengula sat in council with Ms indunas* Rudd and his 
party were summoned to the buck-kraal several times a day. In 
the camps of the concession-hunters and in the trading stations 
many people wondered why Lobengula sent for the Reverend 
C D. Helm, Moffat*s successor as the Senior Missionary of the 
London Missionary Society, to act as his interpreter. 

The work of this reverend gentleman was not to be restricted 
to mere translation, The King, who had full faith in the honesty 
and fairness of the missionaries, had asked Helm to advise him 
in the matter of the concessions. Helm told Lobengula that it 
would be in his interest to come to an arrangement with a strong 
group like Rhodes' to work the Mashonaland gold-fields. Other- 
wise, he warned, 'there will be a rush there soon and things will 
come to a climax*. 

Unfortunately Mr Helm concealed from Lobengula the impor- 
tant Mid rather strange fact that he who had been sent out to 
spread the gospel had just been engaged by Rudd on behalf of 
Rhodes at a salary of 200 per annum *to help them a little'. 

Rudd was therefore glad when one day he and Maguire were 
called to the King and found with him only Thompson, Helm and 
Lotje, the only one of Lobengula's counsellors who was on the 
side of the white men. The day before Rudd had let the King 
know that he would have to leave for home on urgent business. 
Helm at the same time had tried to goad Lobengula into agreeing 
to sign a concession by insisting that he had to return urgently 
to his mission station. Again Lobengula dallied. Again Thompson 
had to assure him that Rhodes did not want land but only gold, 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

and to give Mm a verbal promise which was not put in the 
concession agreement that *they would not bring more than 
ten white men to work in his country, that they would not dig 
near any kraals and that they and their people would abide by 
the laws of his country and in fact be as his people'. All this Helm 
translated and explained. 

Lobengula was now convinced that all that ^Ulodzi", the Man of 
the Big Hole., as he called Rhodes, wanted to do in his country 
was to dig another big hole there as he had done in Kimberley. 

But no, he said, he would not sign* He never signed his name. 
This went on for half an houx. New arguments. Suddenly the 
King turned to Helm: 

'Helfem lete lapa Helm, give it to meP 

And so on 30 October 1888 Lobengula signed what was to 
become his death-warrant. He sold the freedom of his people, 
unwittingly, for a consideration of 100 monthly,, 1,000 Martini- 
Henry rifles, 100,000 rounds of ammunition and a gun-boat (a 
special suggestion of Rhodes' in a letter to Rudd: "same as Stanley 
put on the Upper Congo 3 ), For this blood-money he granted to 
Rudd the complete and exclusive charge over all metals and 
minerals situated and contained in my Kingdoms Principalities and 
Dominions. ... I do hereby authorize the said grantees . . to 
take all necessary and lawful steps to exclude from my Kingdoms 
Principalities and Dominions all persons seeking land metals 
minerals or mining rights therein . . . and I do hereby undertake 
... to grant no concessions of land or mining rights from and 
after this date without their consent and concurrence. . . / 

When Rhodes had discussed with Thompson the planned 
mission to Bulawayo, he had said: 'Thompson, if you can get 
Lobengula's seal to a concession, FU go crassyP Now this moment 
had come. 

By a stroke of genius the document was not only witnessed by 
the Reverend Mr Helm but the reverend gentleman obliged his 
new master by endorsing it with the words: 

I hereby certify that the accompanying document has been fully 
interpreted and explained by me to the Chief Lobengula and his 
full council of Indunas and that all the constitutional usages of the 
Matabele Nation had been complied with prior to his executing 
same. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

and Ws friends the need for counteracting -any 

possible Insinuations that the concession had been squeezed out 
of Lobengula by Mgh pressmre from official quarters, previously 
to him by Shlppard and Mof&t. Shlppard, who for 
several weeks had been a few yards from the very spot where the 
negotiations between the Rhodes-group and Lobengula took 
place, therefore had the unabashed audacity to report to his 
superiors that s no Governmental officer or representative had 
anything to do with the Concession; and my knowledge of what 
took place Is limited to hearsay and to the contents of the 
document*. 

'Marana maka Father of Lies' had merited his nickname once 
more. But as is often the case with such jugglers with truth, Ms 
memory was apt to sHp at times. A few years later he boasted: 

From my first arrival In Mafeking in 1885 1 was In correspondence 
with Lobengula with a view to ultimately securing his territory for 
England in accordance with the plan decided on between Rhodes 
and myself in 1878. 

The Governor and High Commissioner Sir Hercules Robinson 
frowned at the grant of modem firearms to the Matabele. Rhodes 
lightly brushed aside these scruples: 'Quite harmless, these rifles 
in the Kaffir's hands; they are always pushing the sights on the 
gun as high as they will go because they believe the bullets then 
hit harder. Of course with the sight fully pushed out, all the shots 
go far over the aim!' 

The old man was satisfied with this evasive reply. But Lord 
Knutsford, the Colonial Secretary in Salisbury's Cabinet, could 
not be put off so easily, and Robinson was informed that the 
paragraph about guns in the Rudd concession was unacceptable 
to the Government. This difficulty could not deter Rhodes from 
proceeding with his plans. That much he had learnt about hand- 
ling red-taped officialdom. Let them face a jfo*Y accompli and they 
will joyfully succumb to an offered compromise. One must not 
leave a vacuum there ... no vacuum there ... no vacuum, 
Rhodes repeated Innumerable times. 

Some pressure would have to be brought to bear on fat old 
*Lob* to make this savage realize that Rhodes meant business 
when he made an agreement. Sir Hercules, naturally, gave in 

[154] 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

when approached by Shippard on Rhodes* Instructions to ask 
Whitehall for an Increase in the number of Bechuanaland police 
by zco or 300 men in order to safeguard the life and property of 
the British residents against possible unrest in Matabeleland. 
Lord Knutsford tried to bargain but finally 200 men were 
added to Shippard's or should one say to Rhodes' private 
army. 

None of these highly placed Colonial officials seems to have 
shown any scruples in deceiving their Government in misusing 
the taxpayer's money to aid and abet die rape of a country. They 
knew perfectly well that all these expenses were not intended for 
the benefit of thek own country or for the glory of their Queen 
but for the enrichment of one man. One does not like to believe 
that men in their position, particukrly not an old Civil Servant 
with an immaculate past and as generally esteemed for his wisdom, 
efficiency and impartiality as was Robinson, nor such ambitious, 
highly talented and seemingly correct younger men as Shippard, 
Bower and Newton, would have been open to corruption in the 
form of expectations of gratitude from the omnipotent Rhodes 
or that they would have risked their good name, their career and 
the bloody consequences for even a very high stake. Though 
much circumstantial evidence points in this unsavoury direction 
Robinson after his retirement became a director of De Beers, 
and his wife at a farewell-party received a costly diamond-necklace 
from the same company; Shippard later turned from a Civil 
Servant into the well-paid chairman of the Chartered Company, 
and Newton after Ms retirement was given a high position in that 
company yet one would rather like to blame their weakness of 
character, their blind obedience to Rhodes' orders and their lack 
of sound judgment when confronted by Rhodes* overwhelming 
persuasive power,, and his cleverly administered poison of 
Jingoism. 

Up to that stage Rhodes had still been able to give out as his 
ulterior motive his patriotic aims of acquiring the North for 
Britain 'to paint all this ted'. Now, having obtained the Rudd 
concession, he began to convert his liobby*, his 'imagination*, 
into a dividend-paying business proposition. Even the most 
innocent Civil Servant could hardly have failed to observe that 
all his former patriotic catch-phrases were turning into the lingo 
of the Stock Exchange. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

now parted with the rest of his conscience. The Empire- 
became the company promoter. He inserted a declaration 
la the newspapers that Lobengula had granted an exclusive 
concession to Messrs Rudd, Thompson and Maguire and that 
in consequence no one under the threat of arrest was allowed 
to enter Matabcleland. Such high-handed action by private 
monopoly-holders had, of course, no legal backing, but Rhodes 
still had Hs friends in the right places. Shippard obligingly 
arrested the agents of a competing concern when they tried to 
cross the border. 

The Cape Town papers strongly criticized this strange govern- 
mental policy of protecting a concession monopoly. Rhodes did 
not care. He was burning to leave for London. His concession 
had to be put into working order. At the last minute there 
occurred an unexpected hitch. Thompson's reports from Bula- 
wayo sounded alarming. Shippard and Mofiat sent a warning that 
Maund was causing serious trouble. At first Rhodes treated the 
news lightly. He was far more concerned that no vacuum should 
occur. What he had not expected was that Lobengula was about 
to create just such a vacuum. 

Thompson had scarcely left the royal kraal with the precious 
document well secured under his shirt when Lobengula became 
conscious of the possible meaning of the concession document 
which he had signed for Rudd. They had cleverly left no copy for 
him, and he was thus unable to have it translated independently. 
His suspicions increased when Helm, in spite of repeated requests, 
would not send him his own copy. At last after weeks of waiting 
he held this copy in his hands. So strong was still his faith in the 
honesty of missionaries that he summoned two other missionaries 
besides Helm to his kraal. He had to act quickly. Not much 
longer would he be able to control the growing ferment amongst 
his impL They whispered in the kraals that the King had sold a 
great part of their country to Rhodes. 

Lobengula first put the most important question to the two 
missionaries, after they had read the concession document: had 
he given away any of the land of the Matabele? After the two men 
had studied the paper again they told the king that in their opinion 
the white men could not very well dig for gold without land. 

A deathly silence settled over the assembly. Lobengula* s expres- 
sion did not alter. 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

*If gold Is found anywhere in the country can the white men 
occupy the land and dig for it?* he asked. 

'Yes, KingP 

*If gold is in my garden,, can they come and dig it?* 

<Ye$, KingP 

*If gold is in my royal kraal, can they enter and dig?" 

'Yes, King!' 

The King dropped his head. He gave the impression of having 
been completely crushed and beaten. Suddenly a convulsive twist 
ran like a flash through his colossal body* He turned slightly 
towards his chief counsellor, and fixed Mm with a mad stare* his 
eyeballs protruding: 

*Lotje, this was your doing! YouVe blinded my eyes; youVe 
closed my ears; youVe betrayed meP 

The old man bent his head. He rose, full of dignityj and walked 
slowly through the rows of indunas towards the gate* Before 
leaving he turned towards the King and gave Mm the royal 
salute: Bayefe! He knew his fate. Shortly afterwards he was killed 
and with Mm Ms wives, Ms cMldren, Ms grandcMldren, Ms cattle, 
even Ms fowls and dogs. Of Ms kraal only an ash-heap remained. 

The King now turned to Helm, who during the proceedings 
had sat, uncomfortable and sweating profusely, behind Ms two 
missionary brethren. With scalding words the King accused Mm 
of falseness, of betrayal, of fraud, of double-crossing, of perfidy. 
He dismissed the embarrassed evangelist with the words; 

*Hellem, you call yourself a man of God? You are no better 
than a trader/ 

When the King saw Thompson in the crowd he beckoned to 
Mm and said in a voice wMch did not conceal Ms rage: 

*Tomosi, all the killing is not yet over/ 

Lobengula had finally seen through the tricks of SMppard 3 
Mofiat and Helm. If he could only approach the Great WMte 
Queen directly and explain to her the misery into wMch Rhodes 
had plunged Mml 

There remained only one man in Ms kraal who, having once been 
an officer of the Queen and the eye and hand of that great indma 
Warren, would be able to help Mm. That man was Maund. He 
would buy Maund*s allegiance by granting Mm a new concession. 

Maund suggested that Lobengula should write a letter to the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Queen which would be brought to London by two Matabele 
indunas, with Maund acting as their guide and interpreter. 
Lobengula chose the seventy-five-year-old Babyaan, a relative of 
Ms, and Umsheti, a small, gouty, bad-tempered man of sixty-five. 
Maund on behalf of the Exploring Company received a concession 
for a large part of Mashonaiand and was made an induna of that 

district. 

Rhodes was warned in time* His friends at Government House 
in Cape Town were on their guard. Moffat protested that 
Lobenguk's delegates could not leave the country without the 
High Commissioner's permission. Shippard had them arrested 
on the Bechuanaland border for entering the Protectorate unlaw- 
fully. But Maund merely had to indicate that a cable to the 
Colonial Office would easily clarify the existence of this unknown 
regulation. Maund now got his two indunas as far as Cape Town. 
Next Robinson and Rhodes' friend, Captain Bower, and Rhodes* 
old Oxford pal, Newton, stepped in to thwart Lobengula's and 
Maund's plans. The two indunas were again arrested upon their 
arrival in Cape Town and brought to Government House where 
they had to undergo a lengthy cross-examination. Seeing that 
they had no plausible legal reason for stopping the two indunas 
from proceeding to London, Bower and Newton questioned their 
credentials. They accused Maund of having picked up two vagrant 
Natives whose nakedness he had only recently covered with 
ornamental Native garb. 

Maund was not the man to be deterred by such brow-beating. 
After all machinations had been unsuccessful, Rhodes asked his 
accomplices at least to retard the departure of Maund's delegation 
for as long as possible, so as to give him time to arrive in England 
before them. 

Before Rhodes could leave South Africa he had to provide 
against another threatening vacuum in Bulawayo. Rudd, through 
illness, had been unable to return there. Thompson, it seemed, 
had the jitters. Helm was clearly bowled out through Lobengula's 
loss of confidence in him. Moffat, too, had apparently lost his grip 
on Lobengula. Someone energetic, someone cunning and yet tact- 
ful and with a winning personality, was required for the difficult 
task of keeping that fat savage humoured so that he would keep 
to the terms of the concession. The only man with these rare 
qualities was Dr Jameson. 



KING OF THE MATABELE 

As soon as Lobengula met Dr Jameson he took to Mm. His 
cool, sarcastic and light-hearted manner fascinated the King. At 
the time of the doctor's arrival Lobengula, in addition to his 
other troubles, was plagued by the gout. Dr Jameson quickly 
freed the King of his agonizing pains with the aid of morphine. 

For the time being, however, Lobengula did not weaken in his 
determination to deny the validity of the Rudd concession* He 
refused point-blank to accept the arms brought by Dr Jameson 
according to the concession. All Dr Jameson succeeded in doing 
was to persuade him to store the guns and arms in a provisional 
shelter quickly erected by Jameson's men. Lobengula did, how- 
ever, accept the monthly payment of one hundred sovereigns; 
which seemed a strange contradiction of his denial of the agree- 
ment. Was it greed or did he want to avoid a complete break with 
Rhodes before his indunas arrived in London? Or had Dr Jameson, 
perhaps, dosed him so generously with morphine that he had 
actually blocked the royal brain system? 

The dreaded vacuum had been averted. Rhodes, his mind at 
rest and full of hope, sailed for England in April 1889. 



CHAPTER X 

RED, BRITISH RED 

TTJOBERT A. T. G. CECIL, third Marquis of Salisbury, Her 
JrV_Majesty's Prime Minister, sat at Hs mahogany desk at 
10 Downing Street one day in April 1889 studying a file just 
sent over from the Colonial Office. His lordship yawned over the 
documents in his hands and asked his secretary in his usual abrupt 
way: *And who may be this Mr Rhodes? Rather a pro-Boer M.P. 
in South Africa, I fancy/ Before long Lord Salisbury was to know 
only too well who Cecil Rhodes was. 

From his simple room in the noisy Westminster Palace Hotel, 
Rhodes was busy trying to burrow his way through Downing 
Street into Matabeleland. He had started with his preparations for 
obtaining a Charter from the British Government even before he 
had the Rudd concession in his possession. At first he thought 
that he could best foster his plans in South Africa by entering 
politics in England. Rhodes was keenly interested in the Irish 
Home Rule problem which in 1886 had reached its climax. 
Paralleling Ireland's position within the British Empire with that 
of South Africa, Rhodes, still at times dreaming of a British 
World Federation, believed in federation within the British 
Empire and therefore considered Irish representation in the 
English Parliament imperative. 

During his previous voyage to England Rhodes had met 
Mr Swift MacNeill, one of ParnelPs closest friends. They had 
many and long discussions which culminated in Rhodes* offer of 
a gift of 10,000 to the funds of the Irish party. In a lengthy 
letter to Parneil, dated June 1888, Rhodes stipulated as a condi- 
tion for his gift that the Irish party must accept Home Rule not 
in the form of Separation but only of Federation with full 
representation in the English Parliament. Parnell accepted this 
condition. 

Parnell and Rhodes became good friends. The Irish leader had 
just passed through the agony of his sensational law suit against 
The Times, and at the time of Rhodes* visit was still busy fighting 

[160] 



RED, BRITISH RED 

tooth and nail to retain the leadership of his party. Sadly he told 
Rhodes: '1*11 lose: the priests are against me/ 

Rhodes was pacing up and down the room as usual, his hands 
deep in his trouser-pockets. Suddenly he stopped., and looking 
Parnell straight in the eye he asked him: 

'Can't we square the Pope? 9 

Parnell was never able to make out whether Rhodes had meant 
it seriously. In spite of such faux pas Parnell liked Rhodes. He 
once remarked to his friend MacNeill: 

* What a pity that Rhodes is not in the Imperial Parliament. As 
it is, he will not live in history/ 

Rhodes had a very high opinion of Parnell whom he esteemed 
as *the most reasonable and sensible man I ever met*. 

Since Rhodes' gift of 10,000 had not been given secretly or 
bound Parnell to discretion, it immediately became known in all 
political circles. It was therefore understood when Rhodes in the 
spring of 1889 came to London with the concession in one hand 
and his hat in the other to dance attendance on the political 
mighties, that he had 'squared' the Irish party. The English Press 
knew all about his previous skill in 'squaring'. Nobody could 
believe such a generous donation to have been given without an 
ulterior motive. He was accused of being either a sincere Home 
Ruler and an insincere Imperialist or a sincere Imperialist and an 
insincere Home Ruler. To these reproaches Rhodes replied: 

*I gave Mr ParnelPs cause 10,000 because in it I believe lies 
the key of the Federal system, on the basis of perfect Home Rule 
in every part of the Empire, and in it also the Imperial tie begins.* 

To friends, however, Rhodes cynically said that 'his intention 
at the time was merely to keep the Irish party in the House of 
Commons from opposing his Charter when he chose to apply 
for it'. 

Already at the beginning of his parliamentary career Rhodes 
lad valued highly the importance of 'having a good Press'. When 
he had seen his first speeches reported in only a few lines in the 
Cape Town papers he had bought a large interest in one of them. 

In England at the time W. T. Stead, a minister's son a few years 
older than Rhodes, was the most dutstanding journalistic person- 
ality. As its editor he had modernized the Pall Mall Gazette by his 
revolutionary and individualistic way of presenting the news. 
Through his example he had forced the other papers to come 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

down from their pedestals from where they spoke above the heads 
of the masses. Stead can be called the father of modern j ournalism. 

He did not regard the task of his paper as completed by broad- 
casting the news and commenting upon it. He wanted the Press 
to exercise an ethical influence for the improvement of morals, to 
further the educational standard of the people and to spread faith 
in the future of the British Empire as the bastion of world peace 
and advancement of mankind. 

W. T. Stead represented a mighty factor in English public life. 
His printed words weighed heavily in the council of England's 
leaders, and they studied his opinions in the Pall Mall Gazette as 
c though it were the organ of Fate itself*. 

Such a man, Rhodes judged, would be useful to have as a 
friend. He must meet Stead! 

At the beginning Stead was not at all impressed by the young 
South African millionaire. Rhodes broke the ice by telling Stead 
that he had wanted to meet him four years ago to express his 
admiration for the courage he had shown in fighting social evils. 
There followed Rhodes' impressive recital of his romantic ideas 
of the Pax Britannica; of the Federation of the Germanic countries 
led by England; of the conquest of Africa to maintain the 
supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race by finding new unoccupied 
land in which to settle English colonists and to create new 
markets; of the founding of a secret society organized in the style 
of Loyola's Society of Jesus. In his desultory way, jumping from 
one point to another, starting to expound one idea without having 
come to the kernel of the last, Rhodes continued by confiding to 
the stranger opposite him his most intimate thoughts on God, the 
world and himself. Money, he said, he regarded only as a means 
to work out his ideas. 

Stead listened intently. What he heard was music to his ears. 
One Romantic was getting drunk on the sweet drug of romantic 
reveries administered to him by another. Rhodes rejoiced at 
having found at last a congenial soul who would share with him 
his 'dreams' for which he had never found an echo. Here was the 
man for whom he had been waiting, the man who would help 
him realize the 'dreams'. And besides, this man would certainly 
be of tremendous value to him in London in helping him to 
settle quickly all those tiresome formalities concerning his 'little 
hobby in Matabeleland*. 



RED, BRITISH RED 

As was his custom, Rhodes' next step was to take out his 
cheque-book, and offer Stead 'as a free gift 20,000 to buy a share 
in the Pall Mall Gazette as a beginning' with a promise of more 
to come the following year. 

When Stead declined Rhodes showed genuine astonishment. 
The next day 2,000 damages were awarded against Stead in a 
libel case. He had to ask Rhodes for that amount. 

Rhodes did not restrict himself to Stead and his paper in 
preparing the English Press for a good reception. The St James 
Gazette had shown a strongly critical attitude towards him. He 
took its editor, Sir Sidney Low, an eminent journalist of great 
political influence, into his confidence and changed his animosity 
into sympathy with his projects. He also succeeded in establishing 
friendly relations with Moberly Bell, the manager of The Times^ 
and the Reverend John Verschoyle, assistant editor of the pon- 
derous Fortnightly Review, became his helpful and admiring friend. 

The field was now prepared in as far as publicity was concerned. 
The first step on the political scene had been taken through 
Parnell. Making prominent members of the two main parties of 
Parliament acquainted with his schemes and finding contacts 
among present and future Ministers was to be the next task. 

Lord 'Natty* Rothschild assisted Rhodes in meeting politically 
and financially influential men, though he himself as well as his 
firm showed little enthusiasm for Rhodes* exploration schemes. 

Rhodes realized that such conservative bankers as the Roths- 
childs could not be expected to be elevated from the grooves of 
double entry into the realms of his 'dreams*. They had no 
'imagination', Rhodes said to his friend Stead: 

Look at the criminal in his cell and at Lord Rothschild! It is hard 
to say which has the harder lot. The prisoner has some fun, at least, 
with the spiders and the mice, but look at Rothschild! Out of 365 
days, he spends 300 in turning over bits of paper and marking them. 
Look at the two men far enough off, so as not to see any difference 
in clothing, and it will be hard to see any difference between thm. 
Think of that man and his millions what could he not do with 
them! 

Something which could and had been done with such a fortune 
was the palatial mansion which Lord 'Natty* had built for himself 
at Tring Park. Rhodes, though unaccustomed to such splendour 



RHODBS OF AFRICA 

and to the number of prominent names which he encountered at 
Tring, did not feel out of place there as he would have done only 
a few years before. His success and his wealth had given him the 
necessary self-assurance to meet on equal terms the leading 
politicians whom Lord Rothschild invited for him. 

Of the people whom he met there he felt most attracted to 
Lord Rothschild's son-in-law. Lord Rosebery. His attention was 
also drawn to the tall and extremely thin figure of Mr Joseph 
Chamberlain, whose ascetic face never seemed to move or register 
any signs of inner perturbance and which appeared still more 
mask-like with the monocle screwed into his right eye. His was a 
cold and an almost cruel face, in which there burnt, under the ice 
of frozen emotions, a frantic ambition, tireless energy and morbid 
vanity. 

Meeting Chamberlain was an important event for Rhodes, who 
knew that he was a member, and the most interested member, of 
the South African Committee of the House of Commons which 
would have the fate of his scheme in its hands. 

When after dinner the ladies retired, Rhodes managed to place 
himself next to Chamberlain. At first there was a long silence. 
Chamberlain, his arms folded and his legs stretched out, had that 
vague look which had earned him the sobriquet of 'The Sphinx*. 
Rhodes fixed his eyes on him questioningly and when he found 
that the other was going to make no attempt at starting a conver- 
sation, he began, as usual, by plunging straight into a question 
which had worried him: 

*Mr Chamberlain, I am told you do not like me?' 

Chamberlain did not change his relaxed position. His answer 
came in the chilling voice that he used successfully in the House 
when wishing to chastise a backbencher: 

f l am not aware, Mr Rhodes, that I have given anyone the right 
to tell you that. But if you put it to me, why should I? I only 
know three things about you. The first is that you are reported 
to have said that every man'has his price. It is not true, and I do 
not like the man who says it. The second is that you have talked 
of "eliminating the Imperial Factor" in South Africa. The third 
is that you gave .10,000 to Parnell, and that is not exactly a claim 
on my gratitude.* 

After this freezing rebuke Rhodes realized that he would have 
to do more spade-work than he had anticipated. His own dislike 



RED, BRITISH RED 

of Chamberlain dated back to 1 877, when the same man. who today 
played himself up as a great imperialist had protested against the 
annexation of the Transvaal as an act of force, fraud and folly'. 

Rhodes had to give vent to his fury. All the way home in the 
carriage he sat without speaking, but when he arrived at his hotel 
he said to the amazement of a young man unknown to him whom 
he had taken with him: 

'Some people spend their time in growing orchids., others 
spend their time in making empires!' 

His next disappointment came when he called at the Colonial 
Office and was told by Lord Knutsford, the Colonial Secretary of 
State, that Lord Gifford and George Cawston of the Exploring 
Company represented in Africa by Maund, had come to apply 
for a Charter with a similar concession from Lobengula in 
their hands. Knutsford also mentioned that, according to the 
latest reports, it seemed that Lobengula was making difficulties 
about these concessions. The Government, so Rhodes was told, 
did not want to be involved in a private dispute between two 
opposing groups and it would be in the interest of Mr Rhodes 
as well as of the gentlemen of the Exploring Company if they 
would come to an agreement about their claims and join hands 
in the exploitation of the mineral wealth of Mashonaland which, 
under certain conditions, would find the approval of Her Majesty's 
Government. 

Rhodes at first was not so sure whether he should not fight, 
but he finally saw that he had no choice. He had just decided to 
try and amalgamate his interests with those of his opponents 
when Maund and Lobengula' s two delegates arrived in London. 
In the Colonial Office Lobengula' s letter to the Queen had the 
effect of a bombshell. This letter read: 

Lobengula desires to know that there is a Queen. Some of the 
people who come into this land tell him there is a Queen, some of 
them tell him there is not. 

Lobengula can only find out the truth by sending eyes to see 
whether there is a Queen. 

The Indunas are his eyes. 

Lobengula desires, if there is a Queen, to ask her to advise and 
help him, as he is much troubled by white men who come into his 
country and ask to dig gold. They asked me for a place to dig for 
gold, and said they would give me certain things for the right to do 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

so. I told them to bring what they would give, and I would show 
them what I would give. A document was written and presented to 
me for signature, I asked what it contained and was told that in it 
were my words and the words of those men. I put my hand to it. 
About three months afterwards I heard from other sources that I 
had given by this document the right to aH the minerals in my 
country. ... I have since had a meeting of my indunas,, and they will 
not recognize the paper, as it contains neither my words nor the 
words of those who got it. ... I write to you that you may know the 
truth about this thing and may not be deceived. 

As soon as the letter was delivered Rhodes came forward with 
a declaration that it was a forgery. His argument was that it had 
not been witnessed by any missionary, though Rhodes could 
have had no doubts why Lobengula, after his recent experiences 
with the reverend gentlemen, had found a flaw in their honesty. 
As far as the Great Elephant Seal was concerned simply ridicu- 
lous, said Rhodes, to consider it as proof of Lobengula's hand. 
This seal was always kept in the cash-box of one of the traders, 
and the King did not know its meaning at that. And why, pray, 
had Lobengula accepted his monthly payments if he seriously 
denied having granted Rudd the concession? 

Lord Knutsford accepted this flimsy explanation without ask- 
ing for further proof. The Rothschilds and Lord Rosebery had 
convinced him that Rhodes, with the enormous capital of De 
Beers and the Goldfields behind him, would be preferable to the 
Exploring Company in exploiting Lobengula's country. 

Maund in the meanwhile, having become aware of the fact that 
Rhodes was the stronger party, was already reflecting whether it 
would not after all be wiser, as Rudd had already hinted at 
Bulawayo, to come to terms with Rhodes. They met in London 
accidentally. Rhodes tackled Maund bluntly: 

'Listen, Maund, if it comes to a fight, money will be no object 
but there may be means of accommodation/ 

As a direct result of this meeting, Maund immediately flagged 
in his zeal. He advised his friends of the Exploring Company to 
march with Rhodes rather than lose all chances. Since they were 
not willing, however, to sell out to Rhodes at his price, a fight 
for the best possible terms continued. 

The Colonial Office had to remain neutral, or at least to appear 
neutral, in this squabble over alleged concessions, the more so 

[166] 



RED, BRITISH RED 

after some Indiscreet questions had already been asked in the 
House. First Mr Chamberlain had inquired 'whether in view of 
the character of the concession . . . H.M. Government will take 
any steps to call the attention of the Chief to the disadvantages 
and dangers to the peace of the country incident to such a 
monopoly; and whether, in event of H.M. Government extend- 
ing at any future time a protectorate over the Colony, now under 
the sphere of British influence, they will refuse to recognize the 
concession in question or any similar concession that may be 
contrary to the interests of the Chief and people of Matabeleland, 
and likely to lead to complications and to the breach of peace?* 

Baron de Worms, the young Under-Secretary of State, replied 
evasively that the Government had so far abstained from inter- 
fering but that Lobengula had now asked for advice, and that 
someone would be sent to him by the Queen. He emphasized the 
Government's disapproval of the gifts of arms and ammunition. 
And it was certainly not the intention of the Government, he 
said, to countenance such concessions if a Protectorate was to be 
declared. 

Such questions by the Member for Birmingham were greatly 
disliked by the Right Honourable gentlemen on the Treasury 
bench. However, one could discuss such matters with Mr Joseph 
Chamberlain in Committee or tackle him privately in the Lobby. 
It was a different matter, and far more disturbing and dangerous 
to members of the Government, when the Radical Member for 
Northampton, Mr Henry du Pr6 Labouchere, rose and poured 
forth one of his mud-slinging, impudent and libellous attacks, as 
his enemies called them, but which his friends described as Ms 
audacious campaigns against evils and defects in public life. 

Tabby* wanted to know 'whether it is a fact that Lobengula 
denies having knowingly signed a concession . . . and asserts that 
a Missionary, acting as interpreter, erroneously interpreted the 
document to Lobengula*, and 'whether the Secretary of State for 
the Colonies can see his way to put an end to all exclusive conces- 
sions granted to British subjects within South Africa*. 

The greatest precautions would now have to be taken by the 
Colonial Office not to supply Labouchere with material for another 
of his biting vituperations not only in Parliament but also in his 
widely circulated weekly paper, Truth. 

LordKnutsford, realizing the danger arising out of Chamberlain's 

[167] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

sudden curiosity In Lobengula' and from 'LabbyY apparent pre- 
paration for a disclosure in Truth., sent a message to Lobengula 
which would make it clear that the Colonial Office was washing 
its hands of the matter In innocence: 

The Queen advises Lobenguk not to grant hastily concessions of 
land or leave to dig, but to consider all applications very carefully. 
It is not wise to put too much power in the hands of the men who 
come first, and to exclude other deserving men. A king gives a 
stranger an ox, and not his whole herd of cattle, otherwise what 
would other strangers arriving have to eat? 

Rhodes fumed with rage. Again a vacuum was threatening to 
undo the work of the past months. Rhodes now saw clearly that 
what he needed was a mote convincing title to the mineral rights 
in Matabeleland than the vague Rudd concession. Did they not 
call him on the London Stock Exchange 'the great amalgamator' 
after the wonders he had performed with De Beers? He would 
show once again that, even though that Birmingham big stiff 
denied it, everybody had his price. 

Much more easily than he had expected, Rhodes came to an 
agreement with Cawston and Lord Gifford by which the Explor- 
ing Company, possessor of Maund's comprehensive concession, 
together with its sister enterprise, the Bechuanaland Exploration 
Company, was amalgamated with Rhodes* company, the Central 
Search Association, holder of the Rudd concession. A new 
concern comprising all these companies was founded, the United 
Concession Company, with Rhodes, Beit, Rudd, Cawston and 
Lord Gifford on the Board. 

The acquisition of the Bechuanaland Exploration Company 
was particularly welcomed by Rhodes, though this Company's 
only asset was a promise given by Lord Knutsford In 1888 'that 
no offer from any other party for a Railway Company in British 
Bechuanaland should be entertained during the period required 
for making a survey of the route and consideration of their 
proposals*. The Colonial Office had further consented to exercise 
a 'fair influence on Native chiefs of the territories in question'. 
Though the project had been well favoured by the Colonial 
Office, Sir Hercules Robinson, when the surveying party of the 
Company arrived in Cape Town, had made difficulties in every 
respect, as did Sir Sidney Shippard in Bechuanaland. These two 

[168] 



RED, BRITISH EBB 

Colonial administrators, just like their friend Rhodes, did not like 
this interference of the Imperial Factor 5 In a matter concerning 
a vital Cape Colony problem of policy which, they thought, ought 
to be handled from Cape Town* Apart from this, there had been 
a silent understanding that the way to the North and the territories 
beyond the Limpopo were the exclusive concern of Rhodes! 

Rhodes at the time showed the greatest interest in the railway 
project which coincided with his own plans. The engineer in 
charge of the surveying party, Charles M etcalfe, was one of his 
Oxford pals. So well must he have beguiled old Metcalfe at 
Oxford with his stories of South Africa, that this good lad still 
believed in them and was actually dreaming of a railway across 
the whole African continent, stretching from the Cape to Cairo. 
Such a gigantic scheme, surpassing even Rhodes' 'dreams' 
which did not go farther than the Zambezi at the time fired his 
imagination with a new and stronger impetus. His mind so far 
had been principally occupied with the exploitation of the mineral 
resources of the North* Metcalfe, however, had not only conceived 
the idea of linking South Africa by rail with Egypt and the British 
possessions in the Sudan but already had plans in his pocket 
showing their feasibility. Moreover, his group of the Bechuana- 
land Exploration Company had the blessing of Whitehall for the 
project. The negotiations with Metcalfe had broken down when 
Cawston and Lord Gifford found Rhodes competing against them 
in Bulawayo for a gold concession. 

Much still remained to be done. Others came with more or less 
genuine concessions from Lobenguk. Without much investiga- 
tion as to their legal merits Rhodes acquired, sometimes at exhor- 
bitant prices, a number of the strangest documents for all sorts of 
rights granted by Lobengula, 

The concession companies Rhodes had acquired were united 
into the British South Africa Co. (B.S.A.C) with a capital of 
i million in i shares of which De Beers, Goldfields, Rhodes 
and his friends (among them Dr Jameson with 4,500 shares) 
subscribed more than three-quarters while the rest was to be 
reserved for friends in South Africa. Rhodes, Beit and Rudd, as 
well as Cawston and Lord Gifford, became the directors. 

Rhodes knew the history of his country. He had learnt that 
Britain's wealth and the might of her Empire were founded on 

[169] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

her old possessions abroad which had been acquired as a result 
of the spirit of enterprise of a few daring men of action with no 
help from their Government other than receiving a piece of 
vellum containing a beautifully written 'Royal Charter*. 

Rhodes set out to apply for a Charter and sent his associate, 
Lord Gifford, to approach Lord Knutsford. Though he was well 
received and the Secretary of State expressed the interest of the 
Colonial Office in the scheme, it was hinted politely that 'much 
would depend on the personal directorate' or, in other words, 
that men 'without background' like Rhodes, Beit, Rudd and 
Cawston would not be acceptable to the Government as suffi- 
ciently reliable contractors. 

Lord Salisbury was anything but enthusiastic about the project 
as in his opinion 'such far-reaching objects fell properly within 
the province of the Government'. 

The lukewarm reception of his plans by the authorities in- 
furiated Rhodes. He understood that he was expected to present 
for his Board a list of titled nobodies whose names were popular 
or a few immaculate men with reliable political affiliations in 
order to make his scheme palatable to the cliques of Whitehall. 
Rhodes began to look round for men with big names. He first 
asked Arthur Balfour, Lord Salisbury's nephew, who, however, 
declined with a visible shudder. 

Just as once before, the German Government came to Rhodes* 
aid, even if only indirectly. H. M. Stanley had just returned from 
a two-year expedition by which he had acquired almost the entire 
Lake district of Equatoral East Africa. Bismarck heard of Stanley's 
negotiations with England for the annexation of this territory. 
Wilhelmstrasse immediately reminded Downing Street of the 
agreement of 1886, according to which spheres of influence 
should be respected by both sides. Salisbury did not want to 
have new difficulties with Prince Bismarck. He seemed blind to 
the fact that Germany, by seizing the territory between German 
East Africa and the Belgian Congo, would cut off the direct 
connection between South Africa and the British possessions in 
East and Central Africa. 

Germany seemed to have decided on further colonial expansion 
in Africa, and Portugal too had shown signs of an ambition to 
annex territories in Central Africa. 

In South Africa the Transvaal and the Orange Free State had 

[1703 



RED, BRITISH RED 

entered into an alliance. Paul Kruger had not abandoned his 
deske for expansion and was threatening to 'burst Ms kraaF. 
Disquieting reports of Boer activities came from Matabeleland. 
The brother of the murdered Transvaal consul, Piet Grobler, had 
brought to Pretoria a solemn declaration sworn before a Justice 
of the Peace in Bulawayo that Lobengula had never signed the 
Moffat Treaty, President Kruger therefore declined to recognize 
this treaty and claimed Matabeleland in accordance with the 
London Convention which stated that the territory to the north 
of the Republic should remain open to the Boers. 

With the isolation of Britain in Europe where she had to face 
Bismarck's solid Triple-Entente, a frightened Russia eager to 
appease an alternately threatening or flirting Germany, and an 
estranged France, Lord Salisbury found the general political 
situation difficult enough without inviting clashes with the Great 
Powers in the colonial field, which might upset Britain's recently 
recovered prosperity. On the other hand, he was determined not 
to renounce any of Britain's colonial rights, since he did not want 
to be numbered among the 'Little Englanders'. Yet Lord Goschen, 
the tight-fisted Chancellor of the Exchequer, would never consent 
to any tax-money being used for what he called Imperial adven- 
tures north of the Zambezi', 

The Prime Minister was fortified in his resolution not to allow 
any African soil to slip through his fingers after he had listened 
to a young consul who had spent twelve out of his thirty years 
in Central and East Africa. He reported to him about the valuable 
territory of Nyasaland, including the fertile Shire Highlands and 
all the land stretching from north of Lake Tanganyika as far as 
Uganda, borderidg on the Belgian Congo and linking up with the 
Sudan. All this land on which the Germans, and to some extent 
also the Portuguese, had cast their eyes could be brought under 
the British flag if immediate action were taken. 

Salisbury went to the map on the wall and let his finger slide 
slowly from the Cape over Bechuanaland, Matabeleland and 
Mashonaland, crossing over the Zambezi to Nyasaland, along 
Lake Tanganyika, over Uganda and the Sudan, until he stopped 
at Cairo. In a hushed voice he said: fi Cape to Cairo Cape to 
Cairo . . . and all British!' 

Eleven years had passed since 'the Gladstone Prophecy*, as 
Bismarck had called it, which had predicted the linking of the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



British possessions north of the Equator with those in South 
Africa ('be It by larceny or be it by eruption') and since Sir Edwin 
Arnold had coined the catching phrase 'From Cape to Cairo. 5 
The slogan had only recently, In August 1888, been reintroduced 
through an article by the same young man who was now standing 

at his side. 

He was rather young, but Lord Salisbury was convinced that 
he would be able to rely on the sound judgment of Harry 
Hamilton Johnston, a former art student at the Royal Academy 
who had recently been appointed British Consul for Portuguese 
East Africa. Here was a serious and enthusiastic young official of 
the consular service whose great knowledge of Africa, as a result 
of his leadership of a scientific expedition, had been recognized by 
several British scientific societies. He had done most valuable 
work as British Vice-Consul in the Cameroons, where he had 
brought the land of several chiefs under British influence, thus 
laying the foundation for a protectorate in the Niger delta. 

Lord Salisbury, at the end of the interview, saw clearly all the 
advantages of bringing such precious territories under the British 
flag. But what could be done to materialise Johnston's suggestion 
with no funds available for such an expedition? 

Johnston in a very despondent mood went to a dinner-party 
for a meeting with Rhodes arranged by John Verschoyle of the 
Fortnightly fLeview, They sat talking about their African plans 
and dreams until daylight, Rhodes repeating again and again 
Johnston's phrase which he had now heard for the first time, 
'Cape to Cairo'. . . . He was captivated by it. It expressed all he 
had ever dreamt o These three words would serve him well to 
fire the imagination of the masses in South Africa and England and 
to drag the people with him to the conquest of the African interior. 

This rare opportunity must not be allowed to pass. He had 
made up his mind: 'You are to see Lord Salisbury at once, tell 
him who I am and give Lord Rothschild as my reference. . . . Say 
that if money is the only hindrance to our striking north from 
the Zambesi to the headwaters of the Nile, I will find the money! 
. . . What was attempted by Alexander,, Cambyses and Napoleon, 
we practical people are going to finish.* 

With trembling hand Rhodes wrote out a cheque for 2,000 
as a first instalment with which Johnston was to equip his expedi- 
and a declaration to the British Government promising 

['7*1 



RED, BRITISH RED 

10,000 annually for the administration of Nyasaland. The only 
condition was that Johnston left for Nyasaland within four weeks. 

These amounts Rhodes considered a good investment also from 
the point of view of ingratiating himself with Lord Salisbury. 
Rhodes was right in his assumption: Lord Salisbury declared 
himself very satisfied with this solution to the question of acquir- 
ing new colonial possessions cheaply with private aid. It would 
give that" arrogant young Kaiser no reason for complaint against 
the British Government since they could always deny knowledge 
of this private expedition. 

'Quite a smart fellow, this man what do you call him . . . 
Rhodes/ was Salisbury's impression after he had had a talk with 
him. He now looked with greater sympathy at the application for 
a Charter by Rhodes' company. 

At the end of the conversation Rhodes asked how far north he 
should go. Salisbury shrugged his shoulders and pointing to the 
map answered: 'Take all you can get and ask me afterwards!' 

Rhodes was prepared for opposition. Through the efforts of 
his new friend Johnston, Chamberlain was persuaded to abstain 
from asking indiscreet questions in Parliament. In order to protect 
himself and his scheme from further attacks Rhodes needed a 
bulwark of personalities so high in standing that his company 
would be above criticism. Such people could not be lured by the 
prospects of money alone. They would have to be baited by some 
patriotic motives in addition. Two incentives would have to be 
used by Rhodes to stir the patriotic sentiments also of the masses: 
the one based on hatred and fear, the other dependent on a 
melodious catch-phrase. Both were at his disposal: Germany was 
feared and hated by the English for threatening the peace of the 
world and for unfair trade competition through her 'cheap and 
nasty' products. Now she was trying to oust Britain in the 
colonial field! 

Rhodes yoked in his friends to spread the propaganda along 
these lines. To Metcalfe he wrote: *It will come better from you, 
as I am looked on with some distrust at home/ 

Promptly there appeared in the Fortnightly JLeview an article by 
Metcalfe in which he gave warning that the path of Britain into 
the interior was imperilled by Germany's rivalry for the heart of 
Africa. In one of the following issues of this journal was published 
another article in the same vein by another friend of Rhodes', the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

famous hunter and author, Frederick Courteney Selous. To have 
acquired the co-operation of a man of Selous' reputation was to 
be of great advantage to Rhodes. The opinions of an authority 
such as this were willingly accepted in official circles as well as 
by the English Press. The idea of 'Cape to Cairo 5 had gained 
impetus and was taking root. Even an austere scientific assembly 
like the Royal Geographical Society joined the propaganda 
campaign for Rhodes' scheme. 

After the careful instigation of this preliminary publicity cam- 
paign, Rhodes began to worry about finding men of sufficiently 
high rank to be considered 'acceptable' to Whitehall. The Roths- 
childs were still very reluctant to be involved in Rhodes' 'hobby', 
Rhodes knew of only one other person in England in the same 
social position as the Rothschilds: the old Baroness Burdett-Coutts. 

The beautiful mansion in classical Georgian style of No. i 
Stratton Street, Piccadilly, was the centre of London's social life, 
and the mistress of the house was Angela Georgina Burdett- 
Coutts, first Baroness, of Highgate and Brookfield in the County 
of Middlesex. She compelled attention not only by the millions 
which she owned and the huge amounts she constantly gave away 
to charity, but by her grace, her wit and the fine intellect and 
inexhaustible energy with which she managed her business affairs 
and manifold charitable enterprises. 

Rhodes had met this remarkable old lady, now seventy-five 
years old, through an introduction by the Reverend Mr Helm, 
from Bulawayo. Well informed about Lady Burdett-Coutts* deep 
interest in missionary work, he told her about his future plans, 
stressing particularly the great advantages the missionaries would 
have in spreading the gospel and the benefits to be gained by the 
savage Natives if their countries came under the civilizing in- 
fluence of Britain. At the end Rhodes approached her with the 
blunt request to provide him with high-ranking patrons for his 
schemes* Rhodes' wildest expectations were surpassed when Lady 
Burdett-Coutts arranged a party for him with the Prince of Wales 
as guest of honour. 

When Rhodes explained his scheme to His Royal Highness, he 
found not only a willing ear but also the understanding of a man 
sufficiently schooled in business affairs to be able to judge the 
soundness of a financial proposition. The Prince became infected 
with Rhodes* enthusiasm and promised to submit the plan to the 



RED, BRITISH RED 

Queen, who, after consulting with Lord Salisbury, gave her 
consent to grant Rhodes a Royal Charter. Since it was not con- 
sidered advisable, for political reasons, that the Prince should 
accept the leading position in the Chartered Company, he recom- 
mended instead his son-in-law, the Duke of Fife. Also for political 
reasons, the Duke was to take the position only of vice-chairman 
and thus the Prince of Wales chose for the chairmanship his good 
old friend the Duke of Abercorn. Both dukes had very close 
political connections, Fife with the Liberals, and Abercorn with 
the Tories. 

With the royal blessing and two dukes on his Board it was easy 
for Rhodes to fill the other seats on the British South Africa 
Company before applying for the Charter. Lord Gifford and 
Cawston of the Exploring Company had to be on it according to 
the terms of the merger, and it was natural that Rhodes should 
be nominated managing director with Maguire representing him 
on the London Board. Beit and Rudd were also included. The 
Duke of Fife brought in a senior partner in his banking firm. 
Sir Horace B. Farquhar, and also, on his friend Stead's recom- 
mendation, Lord Albert H. G. Grey, nephew and heir to Earl 
Grey, an acquisition described as Rhodes' greatest achievement. 

Rhodes now felt that he needed a background more adequate 
than the Vicarage of Bishop's Stortford to lift himself to the same 
social level as his new associates. If he could not boast of noble 
birth he would at least show a descent from old gentry stock. He 
acquired from a distant relative an estate at Dalston, once owned 
by his grandfather, Samuel Rhodes. In the churchyard the new 
squire had some gravestones of the family restored and had others 
brought there from various places, in order to establish a 'family 
vault'. Dalston now became 'the old family seat*. 

Through his new connections and through Beit, Rhodes be- 
came friendly with a number of city bankers who were to be very 
useful in the future, such as Barpn d'Erlanger, in later years a 
director of the Chartered Company. He much admired Rhodes' 
talent for publicity, declaring that 'Rhodes fired the imagination 
of that most conservative class of human beings, the British 
investor, by christening his route the Cape to Cairo*. Of still 
greater advantage were Rhodes* business dealings with the 
bankers G. & A. de Worms, who took a great financial interest 
in the Chartered Company. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



The Times,, formerly sceptical about the plans and personality 
of Rhodes, now waxed almost enthusiastic in a leader which 
heralded "the formation of a new company of British capitalists 
and phiknthropists . . . opening up to trade and civilization 
certain territories in central Zambesi', *It is rich/ it continued, 
'fabulously rich, we are told, in precious metals and half a dozen 
others besides. . . . Whether the Company finds the wealth of 
Ophir in the mountains and rivers of Mashonaland or not, we 
cannot doubt that it will lay the basis of a great EngUsh-speaking 
colony in what appears to be the fairest region in Africa. 

One can almost see Rhodes and his intimates smile as they read 
the passage about 'British capitalists and philanthropists'. Perhaps 
it was at this opportunity that there first escaped his lips the ugly 
words which he later used repeatedly: Turc philanthropy is aU 
very well in its way, but philanthropy plus five per cent is a good 
deal better/ The Liberal papers, however, showed their scepticism 
in as blunt a form as they could without tempting the English 
libel laws, and encouraged by their condemning criticism the 
Reverend Mr Mackenzie raised his arm to give what he thought 
would be the death-blow to Rhodes' plans by an attack in his 
pamphlets against 'a Cape colonist who is believed to have 
received very influential support . . . from persons in authority 
at the Cape. ... A single speculator who buys for an old song 
the most valuable territory in South Africa. . . / Fortified by 
royal backing, Rhodes was not much disturbed by his old 
opponent's vendetta. He was far more worried by the hostility 
displayed towards him in Parliament, which came not only 
from the side of the 'Little Englanders* but also from staunch 
imperialists. 

Labouchere again asked some embarrassing questions in the 
House, his curiosity this time being directed at the relationship 
between the High Commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson, and 
Rhodes, and the official help received in attaining the Rudd 
concession. 

Feeling against Robinson ran high in the House because of a 
speech he had delivered on his departure from South Africa and 
his retirement from office. He had said that *. . . there is no 
permanent place in the future of South Africa for direct Imperial 
rule on a large scalel . . .* Such variations on Rhodes' theme of 
the 'elimination of the Imperial Factor*, which he was trying to 



RED, BRITISH RED 

live down, turned many politicians against the Charter. They 
argued that Rhodes was a double-tongued anti-Imperialist flirting 
with the Boer-friendly and anglophobian Bond in South Africa 
and at the same time playing up to the Jingo spirit at home. 

The revival of 'John Company*, in the form of Rhodes' 
Chartered Company, met with opposition on both sides of the 
House. As chief speaker and most ardent opponent there rose 
Sir John Swinburne who had a special axe to grind with Rhodes 
for having encroached on a territory to which he believed himself 
to have a prior claim as the founder of the Tati gold-mines. 
Though the Tati district was expressly excluded from the Rudd 
concession. Sir John saw his prospering company dwarfed by 
Rhodes'. He complained that the treatment of the Charter in 
Parliament was 'a hole-and-corner affair . . . being railroaded 
through the House of Commons at an outrageous speed'. 
Pleading for adjournment, he concluded with the words: 

'The fact is, this Charter will give to a syndicate of private 
adventurers as much power as the old East India Company 
possessed. . . . The whole pith of the Charter is really to confer 
all these powers on one person, Mr Cecil Rhodes.' 

Following his principle of preferring negotiation to fighting, 
Rhodes offered Sir John Swinburne a price far above its true 
value and successfully persuaded him to sell him his Tati conces- 
sion and merge his company with the Rhodes' group. 

To suppress any arguments that Rhodes, by the terms of the 
Charter, would be at the receiving end without any compensatory 
obligations, while the Government was forced into the role of a 
goddess bestowing on him far-reaching favours without expecta- 
tions of any returns, Rhodes offered to extend the railways and 
telegraph lines in the North and to begin to build immediately 
a telegraph line between Mafeking and Tati. He also offered an 
annual amount of 4,000 for the salaries and expenses of a 
suggested Imperial Resident at Bulawayo. 

Finally, on 10 July, Lord Knutsford informed Cecil Rhodes 
that the Cabinet had decided to recommend to Her Majesty to 
grant the British South Africa Company a Royal Charter. It was 
only by dint of the greatest exertion by Rhodes assisted by 
Sir Hercules Robinson that the resistance of the Colonial Office 
was broken down and all Rhodes' demands were met. The hardest 
fight occurred right at the beginning when the future boundaries 

[177] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

of the Chartered Company were fixed. The Colonial Office made 
no difficulties about the other frontiers but insisted obstinately 
that the Zambezi should be the boundary in the North. Rhodes 
remained adamant in demanding full freedom to go as far north 
as he wished, skilfully using the 'Cape to Cairo' leitmotiv in his 
plea. In the end Lord Knutsford gave way and the Charter 
contained no mention of the northern boundaries in regard to the 
extension of the Company's territory. 

As a matter of fact, the Government could not and did not 
grant land in a country over which it possessed no claim to 
jurisdiction in any form. Only much later, by a Report of the 
Lords of the Judicial Commission of the Privy Council of 
19 July 1918, was a legal interpretation of the purport of the 
Charter given: 

The Charter simply gave capacity to own and to grant land, but 
in itself it granted none. It used, indeed, the expression 'the Com- 
pany's territories', but this referred to the area within which those 
capacities might be exercised, and did not amount to an anticipatory 
grant by the Crown of land which in 1889 was not the Crown's to 
bestow. . . . 

After the Charter had already gone through, Lord Salisbury 
felt that it had been granted for something which did not exist. 
In a note to the Colonial Office he pointed out that Rhodes 
possessed no claim to land: 

, , . that the British South Africa Company has found itself hitherto 
somewhat embarrassed by the fact, on which those opposed to it 
were not disinclined to dwell, that the *Rudd concession' obtained 
from Lobenguk in 1888 did not in terms purport to grant more 
than mining rights in his territories, and that therefore it had but 
an imperfect right, if any right at all, to grant such titles to immovable 
property as were necessary for the development of a civilized com- 
munity and of operations other than mining in its field of operations 
South of the Zambezi. 

Translating from the official lingo, it becomes evident that the 
Charter was granted to the Company only for the exploitation of 
mining rights derived from the Rudd concession, the only asset, 
in the opinion of the British Government, that the Company 
possessed. However, Rhodes and his associates had purposely 
concealed the fact that the Company ctid not even own the Rudd 



RED, BRITISH RED 

concession! The Rudd concession, just like the Maund concession, 
the Tati concession, the Bains concession and the Nyasaland 
agreement, had been acquired and were held by the United 
Concessions Company, the private company founded and owned 
by Rhodes, Rudd and Beit together with Lord Gilford and 
George Cawston. 

Only after the Government had confirmed its decision of 
granting the Charter did Rhodes make a contract between the 
British South Africa Company and his United Concessions 
Company, conferring on the former the rights (but not the title!) 
connected with the Rudd and other concessions against a pay- 
ment of 50 per cent of all profits deriving therefrom. Rhodes, 
behind the back of the Government and of his shareholders, and 
without paying a penny for this valuable claim, thus made himself 
a secret half-share partner of the British South Africa Company. 
What enormous value this clandestine partnership represented 
was to become evident in 1890 when the Company was forced to 
buy from Rhodes that is, from his United Concessions Company 
the Rudd and other concessions in his hands for one million 
fully paid i shares of the Chartered Company of which the 
market value was then akeady between 3 and 4 each and which 
were to climb within the next few years to 7. Lord Gifford and 
Cawston received 75,006 shares while the bulk went to Rhodes, 
Rudd and Beit, each of whom therefore made a profit of over 
a million on this deal! 

The British Government, just as much as the shareholders, was 
completely taken in by this nefarious trick. It took the Colonial 
Office more than three years and then only by a change in Govern- 
ment to discover the fraudulent manipulations which had been 
kept secret from them in 1889. The Secretary for the Colonies, 
Lord Ripon, informing the Chartered Company in 1892 that he 
had just received official report of the arrangement between the 
two companies, stated: 

... it is clear that Her Majesty's late Government [Salisbury's] was 
unaware of it when they advised the grant of the Charteir. Whether 
knowledge of the arrangement would have influenced their action 
is a question which they alone could answer, but Lord Ripon thinks 
it important to place on record a statement of the state of their 
information at the time when alone their knowledge or want of 
knowledge of the arrangement was material. 

[179] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



Contrary to general belief at the time, the Charter did not give 
any great political powers to Rhodes. On the other hand, it also 
did not put him under any great obligations. The obligations 
which it did impose on him concerned the rights of the Natives 
and were formulated in vague terms. The Charter granted by the 
Queen on 15 October 1889 stated that the Chartered Company, 
on the prescribed field of operation, could exercise full benefit of 
its concessions 'so far as they are valid"; that the Company might, 
with the approval of the Government, acquire other concessions 
and rights 'including powers necessary for the purposes of govern- 
ment 5 ; that the Company 'preserve peace and order . . . and may 
establish and maintain a force of police*, that the Company 'shall 
consider carefully native laws and customs, particularly land- 
property rights 3 ; and that the Company make regulations for the 
preservation of elephants and other game. One paragraph was 
inserted, suggested by Rhodes' legal friends, which made the 
Chatter completely incontestable, even by the shrewdest lawyers: 
'Her Majesty do further will, ordain and declare that this Our 
Charter shall be taken, construed and adjudged in the most 
favourable and beneficial sense for, and the best advantage of, 
the Company . . . notwithstanding that there may appear to be 
in this Our Charter any non-recital, mis-recital, uncertainty or 
imperfection.' Paragraph 30- -'Our Naval and Military officers 
and Our Consuls and Our other Officers in Our Colonies and 
Possessions, and on the high seas, ... be in all things aiding 
to the Company and its officers' meant that the Company 
could call upon the help of the British Army and Navy in its 
tasks. 

As a result of pressure from Exeter Hall the Colonial Office 
insisted on the prohibition of intoxicating drinks in the Company's 
territories, but the final formulation of Paragraph 12 of the Charter 
perplexed all those who knew about the abominable though very 
profitable trade in spirits in Native territories and its effects on 
the aborigines: 

The Company shall regulate the traffic in spirits and other 
intoxicating liquors within the territories aforesaid, so as, as far as 
practicable?* to prevent the sale of any spirits or other intoxicating 
liquor to any Natives. 

1 Italics by the Author 

fi8o] 



RED, BRITISH RED 

There was a general outburst of abhorrence about a paragraph 
which dealt with slavery. Paragraph n of the Charter stated that: 

The Company shall to the best of Its ability discourage and, so 
far as may be practicable^ abolish by degrees, any system of slave 
trade or domestic servitude in the territories aforesaid. 

Rhodes was now faced for the first time with translating his 
'dreams* into realities. At this point he was concerned only with 
the problem of financing his march to the North. 'Our concession 
is so gigantic, it is like giving a man the whole of Australia/ he 
told Rudd. For its exploitation enormous sums would have to be 
handy. For the time being, and as long as these amounts did not 
have to be shown in cash, he manipulated the financing of the 
Chartered Company by using the money of De Beers and the 
Goldfields. The Rothschilds had already remonstrated about the 
unorthodox use of the capital of these two concerns. Generous 
and helpful as they had been at the foundation of his diamond 
amalgamation and of the Goldfields, they still held coldly aloof 
from helping to finance the Chartered Company. He thus had to 
find the means on the money market and induce speculators, 
investors and savers to take up on the Stock Exchange the one 
million shares of i each of the Chartered Company. 

Invulnerable against criticism through his high connections, 
he could unload his shares on an unsuspecting public. Carefully 
he directed the market so that the shares were taken up in large 
quantities at double and treble the price of their nominal value 
until they rose to a maximum of more than j for the i shares. 
The publicity slogan of *Cape to Cairo' had worked wonders. The 
most absurd paradox was the fact that the majority of the shares 
of this company, meant by its founder to become the bastion of 
British supremacy in southern Africa and the basis of the realiza- 
tion of his imperialistic dreams, were bought by French and 
German speculators. This fact was of course not revealed to the 
public, just as the shareholders were kept in the dark about all 
matters concerning the Company. And what little they were told 
when offered its shares was painted to them in glowing colours. 
Actually the assets of the Chartered Company were nil. Its future 
was built on hopes. The main hope, described in terms of a 
certainty, lay in finding gold in the concessioned territories. The 

1 Italics ly the Author 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

only authorities for such expectations were certain passages in the 
Old Testament which referred to the Land of Ophir, the tales of 
some ancient travellers and a few pieces of auriferous rock found 
twenty years before by an amateur explorer and painter. But the 
names of the high-ranking personalities on the Board dispersed 
all scruples > suspicion and caution. 

Serious criticism was raised about the methods employed in 
forming the Company. It was stated openly that its shares were 
'used by Rhodes to conciliate the influence of influential people*. 
Rhodes doled out liberally to those who had assisted him in 
promoting the Company options on i shares which could be 
sold, even before they were paid for, at 2. or 3 . Rhodes 7 friends 
defended him against such reproaches with the astonishing expla- 
nation that he 'looked at the matter in a broad way and recognized 
all those who had helped him secure the Charter and given 
requisite financial guarantees as entitled to the first chance of 
profit by the enterprise which they had helped to bring into 
existence*. He was taxed with the same offence in South Africa 
that he used a large parcel of these shares to 'square' his local 
influential friends. 

Rhodes was beginning to become impatient. Africa was calling 
him. Thompson's latest reports from Bulawayo carried the alarm- 
ing tidings that Lobengula was once more falling under the 
influence of his Vhite dogs*. Thompson seemed again to be 
suffering from the jitters. 

Before the Charter was officially proclaimed Rhodes set out 
for South Africa to gather the harvest from the seeds of his 
'dreams*. 



CHAPTER XI 

A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

DARK, silent clouds were hanging over the royal kraal of 
Bulawayo. No one dared to speak aloud. Not even the 
highest induna would have dared to criticize Lobengula. Rather 
they pitied him. They whispered that since he had had Lotje and 
his whole clan killed the King often did not touch food or beer for 
days. Not that the King repented of having put to death his chief 
counsellor; but he felt that he could no longer rely on the advice 
of any of his indunas. They said that the King was robbed of his 
sleep at night by madhlo^i ghosts. He could be seen wandering 
through his kraal in the dark or sitting in his goat-kraal fully robed 
in his regal war-dress, brewing medicines with the help of the 
chief witch-doctor. What worried the people most were the 
rumours that for several moons the King had called none of his 
wives nor any of his concubines to the brick house to share his 
mat with him. 

Even the highest indunas were kept in the dark about their 
royal master's plans, let alone his thoughts, worries and fears. 
Very seldom now were they called to the royal kraal for an indaba. 
It was whispered in Bulawayo that the King seemed to have been 
cured for ever of his former partiality towards white men. His 
great friend whom he calls *Tomosi ? , the mouth of the Man who 
made the Big Hole, the gossipers said, seems to have fallen into 
disgrace. Even the Queen's induna 'Joni 3 Moffat has been waiting 
already for weeks to see the King. 

The fact was that Lobengula felt like a trapped animal robbed 
of its freedom and left no choice but to wait for the death-blow. 
The only indunas admitted to the royal presence were his emis- 
saries, Babyaan and Umsheti. Again and again they had to tell the 
King their tales about the land of the Great White Queen. During 
one such discussion he opened the old biscuit-box, and dug under 
his diamonds. Out came the cursed piece of paper by which he 
was supposed to have given away his land to the white men. He 
ordered Thompson, the traders and the white hangers-on of the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

kraal to appear before him. Everyone had told him that Thompson 
had blinded his eyes by magic and that the concession was not 
valid. Let them now tell him how to rid himself and his country 
of the danger of being eaten by the big-mouthed guns of the 
white devils: 

'What have you got to say? There is the paper!' 

The white men looked uncomfortable. None of them seemed 
willing to talk. Finally one found the courage to step forward 
and say: 

'King, we have read the paper again and we must say that this 
document is all right* What we said about Mr Thompson we 
know now was wrong/ 

Lobengula's face expressed such contempt that the man quickly 
stepped back into the crowd. The King rubbed his hands across 
his Kps: 'Tomosi has smeared fat on your mouths/ he said. 'Oh, 
what liars all you white men are! Tomosi, youVe lied the least. 
Tomosi, have you not got a brother named Rhodes who eats 
a whole country for breakfast?' With these words the King, his 
eyes flashing fire, dismissed them. 

Lobengula had guessed correctly that the sudden change in 
attitude of the resident white men in Bulawayo was brought about 
by corruption. Rhodes had bombarded Thompson with letters 
for weeks, always fearing that the last of his envoys would, as 
Rudd and Maguire had done, become nervous and quit his post, 
thus creating the abhorred vacuum. He persuaded the brave 
Thompson not to give up, tempting him with prospects of the 
future: 

... I ask you plainly: do you believe you could have a grander 
chance in the world if the thing succeeds. . . ? When I tell you that 
the Rand is selling today for 30 millions what may I ask is the 
value of our Concession if we get settled in harness. . . ? 

Rhodes was equally worried about the opposition to his conces- 
sion from the influential traders and about their claims based on 
previous grants from Lobengula. He therefore advised Thompson: 

I think you underrate your opponents. Could you not gradually 
employ them? Napoleon was prepared to share the world as long 
as he got Europe, Work on these lines. Can't you give the whites 
who are in the country something, . . ? 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

Thompson followed Rhodes* suggestion and distributed freely 
among the traders and the 'white dogs' several thousand pounds. 
They pocketed the money with satisfaction but Thompson won 
their full loyalty only after he had shown them a letter from 
Rhodes which contained the passage: 

... I am arranging with the Colonial Office to withdraw any 
chance of action against any of the whites, so you can assure them 
they are safe. . . . 

By this clever stroke of promising them immunity though 
Rhodes' interference as a private individual with the course of 
British Justice is amazing Rhodes removed their main cause for 
opposition. As fugitives from the British police, most of the white 
men in Bulawayo had had very good reason for trying to prevent 
British infiltration into Matabeleland. 

Feeling that the noose arourid his neck was tightening, Loben- 
gula in his desperation again wrote a letter to the Queen: 

The white people are troubling me much about gold. If the Queen 
hears that I have given away the whole country it is not so. I have 
no one in my country who knows how to write. I do not know where 
the dispute is as I have no knowledge of writing. 

Having learnt from his previous experience, Lobengula this 
time adhered strictly to prescribed procedure and went to the 
Reverend Mr MofFat as the representative of the Queen to have 
his signature witnessed and the letter forwarded through official 
routes. The letter caused great dismay to Rhodes' friends in 
South Africa Sir Sidney Shippard, J. S. Moffat and Captain 
Bower all of whom served their Queen as high colonial officers 
with the same devotion with which they looked after the interests 
of their other master, Cecil Rhodes. 

Rhodes had just returned from London with the Cabinet's 
confirmation of the Charter. The royal proclamation of the 
Charter was expected towards die end of October. It was now 
the middle of August. A letter from Bulawayo to London usually 
took about seven weeks. This meant that Lobengula's letter would 
arrive before the Charter was officially announced and could thus 
easily, if not upset, at least delay all Rhodes' plans. The letter 
would have to be kept back, Rhodes suggested, until there was 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

no longer any danger of a collision. His friends obligingly kept 
back the letter which was dispatched to London four days before 
the Charter was gazetted and arrived there exactly no days after 
Moffat had received it from Lobengula. 

When no answer arrived from the Queen, Lobengula's fears 
turned to panic. His regime of terror in the royal kraal had worked 
on his young warriors to such an extent that they openly voiced 
their demand to c wash their assegais in blood*. Much as Loben- 
gula, in normal times, had welcomed the eagerness which drove 
his matjaha young recruits into battle to win the right to 
marry, he did not even dare to send them on harmless raids 
beyond the border. He had learnt about the increase of the 
Bechuanaland Police which Sir Hercules Robinson, at Rhodes' 
request, had so cleverly squeezed out of the Colonial Office. 
These police-impis, Lobengula was told, were suspiciously busy 
on the Matabele frontiers. He feared that if he allowed his young 
bloods to go totgubagubo to rattle their shields it might lead to 
clashes with the Queen's impis* 

The high spirits of Lobengula's matjaha found an outlet in 
insulting and threatening Thompson. He was a brave man who 
had never shirked the greatest perils of the- veld and had never 
shown fear of even the wildest Natives. But what he had to suffer 
in Bulawayo, where he was no longer safe by day or night, went 
even beyond his power of endurance. He had now wasted his 
time and health in Bulawayo, without a break, for more than a 
year. Why could not Rudd or Maguire come to replace him or 
better still Rhodes himself for whom Lobengula was clamouring 
all the time? 

Rhodes replied from Kimberley that he should stay in Bulawayo 
until the concession was ratified by Lobengula. While praising 
him for his work Rhodes warned him sternly that he would lose 
his credit and rewards 'which would be hard for your own 
future' if he did not see the matter through to the finish *which 
is now so near'. Rhodes must have realized that this was some- 
what harsh on an associate who for over a year had risked his 
life for him almost daily and therefore added: 

Please do not view this as a threat but look at it practically. If we 
lose the Concession we have nothing for the Charter. . . . If I were 
to isolate myself in the interior at this moment the whole of the 
base would go wrong. 

[186] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

Rhodes did, however, announce that he might send Dr 
Jameson to help Thompson in Bulawayo. The doctor had already 
proved that he was the only one among Rhodes' friends, who, by 
his strong nerves, his energy and no less by a never-failing 
personal fascination, could manage Lobengula. Rhodes knew him 
for a passionate hazarder who gambled not so much for the sake 
of money as for the thrill of outwitting an opponent. Here was 
a gamble! Dr Jim would certainly jump at the opportunity of 
out-trumping an opponent like Lobengula. Dr Jameson's answer 
to Rhodes* inquiry when he would be willing to start arrived 
promptly: *By tomorrow's mail-coach.' 

While Dr Jameson was being jolted in the coach to Bulawayo, 
Rhodes was on his way to Pretoria to settle with President Krager 
the Transvaal's still ardent and vociferous aspirations to the North. 

Upon his arrival Rhodes was told that the President could not 
see him that day, Saturday, as the town was full of burghers who 
had come from near and far for the nagmaal Holy Communion 
and many of whom would call on the President and leave him no 
time to see anyone else. 'And tomorrow?' asked Rhodes, already 
irritated by this cool reception. The President's secretary looked 
at the visitor with an expression of incredulity: 'Tomorrow is 
Sunday? *I know,' said Rhodes, *but I have to leave.' *The Presi- 
dent does not see any visitors on Sundays.' "Tell him Cecil Rhodes 
wants to see him.' 

The secretary came back quickly with the President's answer: 

'Tell him that I do not do business on die dag van die Here. So 
Mr Rhodes can wait or go.' 

Rhodes turned purple. Picking up his hat, he hissed: 'The old 
devil! I meant to work with him, but I am not going on my knees 
to him. I've got my concession, though, and he can do nothing.' 
He left for Kimberley by the next coach. 

Historians have agreed that this interview, which did not take 
place because of the obstinacy of two strong-willed men, might 
have changed the entire course of South African history. 

Rhodes was in a hurry to return to Cape Town in order to ask 
the help of his friends in Government House against a fresh 
attempt by Edward Lippert and Renny-Tailyour to obtain a new 
concession from Lobengula on behalf of a German syndicate. 
Rhodes' men had reported that Renny-Tailyour was in Johannes- 
burg, where he was observed to hold long conferences with 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Lippert, both frequently visiting the agents of a German bank* 
When Rhodes heard that Renny-Tailyour was buying a travel 
wagon and engaging several Matabele boys as servants for a 
journey to the North and had asked all to keep the matter secret, 
he became determined to prevent him or Lippert from crossing 
the border into Matabeleland. It seemed evident that one of 
them wanted to take the concession document to Bulawayo for 
Lobengula's signature. Government House, as always, was oblig- 
ing without asking any questions about the legality of their 
friend's demands* Shippard immediately issued an order to the 
Bechuanaland Police to arrest Lippert and Renny-Tailyour if 
either of them should try to enter Matabeleland. The incredible 
occurrence, contrary to all concepts of law and justice, of a British 
subject being put under arrest on British territory without a legal 
warrant and for the only reason that he was about to enter a 
foreign country outside British jurisdiction, took place when 
Renny-Tailyour arrived at Tuli, the frontier-station in Bechuana- 
land. Renny-Tailyour calmly told the officer that he would launch 
a complaint with the High Commissioner and would wait as his 
prisoner for the reply. A few days after his arrest a Native runner 
was seen racing along the road, wildly swinging a cleft stick to 
which was fixed a heavily sealed letter. Already from afar, as was 
the custom of royal runners, he shouted: A royal message from 
my lord, King Lobengula, to his slave Renny . . . Renny. . . P 

Nonchalantly Renny-Tailyour put the letter in his pocket. He 
went to the camp-commander to tell him that there was now no 
longer any need for him to go to Bulawayo. 

To the officer's question he replied with well-simulated indif- 
ference: 'Really, nothing of importance, but this letter here saves 
me a lot of bother, as it contains a concession just signed by 
Lobengula and his council of indunas by which all land-rights of 
Matabeleland are transferred to me and Lippert.* 

This time Rhodes had been outwitted. Lippert had not given 
up hope of getting the better of Rhodes and particularly of his 
hated cousin Beit, even after they had obtained the Rudd conces- 
sion. He consulted Th. ( c Ofly*) Shepstone, a barrister recognized 
as the greatest authority on concessions in South Africa. Offy 9 
was the son of a famous British Colonial official, Sir Theophilus 
Shepstone, who was known throughout southern Africa as 
'Somtseu' the Mighty Hunter and esteemed as a great friend 

[188] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

of the Zulus. This friendship was extended to his son c Ofiy* not 
only by the Zulus, among whom he had grown up, but by many 
other tribes, especially the Matabele. Lobengula was very fond of 
*Offy* and regarded him as his best friend among the white men. 
He therefore accepted Shepstone's advice to give Lippert a land- 
concession by which the Rudd concession would become valueless 
because it did not cover sufficiently the right to take possession of 
land. If Lippert was nominally the owner of all land, how would 
Rhodes be able to dig for gold? Lobengula, in the hope of 
forestalling Rhodes* further onslaughts by having Rudd's gold 
concession disputed by another white man, willingly signed the 
Lippert concession. 

Rhodes was furious. His anger changed to fear when he learnt 
the full contents of the Lippert concession. It contained exactly 
those rights which he needed so as to legalize his own concession 
and make the Charter workable. These land-rights had worried 
Rhodes a good deal and he had discussed this point in London, 
Chamberlain had advised him: "Well, you have got the gold of 
the whole country, which in itself is nine points of possession, so 
I should say that even if you have it not in theory, you have it in 
practice. But I should like you to get some territorial acknow- 
ledgment from Lobengula, further strengthening your claim as 
a whole.' 

Knowing full well the value to the Chattered Company of their 
concession, Lippert and his group asked a stiff price for it which 
Rhodes declined to pay. Negotiations dragged on for a long time 
until Rhodes had to swallow the bitter pill of paying Lippert his 
exorbitant sum. Thirty years later the highest English law-court 
decided that the Lippert concession did not really offer any 
legality as a title to the ownership of land. 

Thompson, in the meanwhile, could no longer bear to stay at 
Bulawayo with the now certain prospect of being murdered by 
the excited Matabele. He decided to flee as quickly as he could. 
Just on the border he met Dr Jameson, who persuaded him to 
return with him to Lobengula. 

The King, however, refused 'to give him the road*, saying: 
jslo I do not want to see that man who has spoken to me with 
two tongues. Lobengula chases liars away like mangy dogs/ It 
took Dr Jameson's persuasive influence eventually to obtain 
permission for Thompson, to enter Bulawayo with him. Jameson 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

was warmly received by Lobengula, who was still very fond of 
"IPDogetele', The doctor used all Ms charm in executing Rhodes 3 
order c to keep Lobengula sweet'. Again he treated him success- 
fully for his gout and cured his inflamed eyes. By his humour, his 
presents and his captivating amiability, Dr Jameson helped con- 
siderably to improve the mood of the King and also to dispel 
some of his fears* 

One day, when Jameson had started to prepare Lobengula 
for the impending occupation of Mashonaland by the Chartered 
Company, the King, turning to Ms interpreter, had burst out: 

* <c Ulocbd" has sent me many emissaries and among them 
"ITDogetele", whom I like, who is "UlodriV * mouth; but I am 
Lobengula and I want to see the big white chief himself; I am 
tired of talking with his messengers and the bearers of his words; 
their stories don't all agree.' 

Progress was slow* Whenever the subject of Mashonaland was 
broached Lobengula* broke up the interview. The prospect of 
persuading him to consent to the Chartered Company's entry 
into Mashonaland deteriorated rapidly* The Colonial Office, per- 
sistently egged on by Rhodes 5 ducal associates in London, had 
prepared a theatrical coup by which Lobengula should be left in 
no doubt that behind Rhodes and the Chartered Company stood 
H.M. the Queen and the British Government and that they were 
resolved to back the gold concession if necessary by the might 
of their army. The occasion of notifying him officially of the 
granting of the Charter was chosen as the right moment. 

On a hot summer day at the beginning of 1890, there jogged 
along the rugged road to the royal kraal a heavy coach on the 
doors of which, below a large golden crown, was inscribed the 
royal monogram V.R. The cumbersome vehicle, drawn by eight 
fat and shiny mules in silver-coated harness, was followed by 
many riders in scarlet uniform, with glittering silver breast-plates 
and shiny silver helmets from which costly feathers fluttered in 
the wind. Each of these uncanny appearances rode a wonderful 
charger covered with costly material and most of them carried 
drawn swords. The cattle in the kraal became restless. The dogs 
howled and crept away with tails between their legs. Chickens 
fluttered in terror into the bushes. Women cried hysterically and 
pulled away their children to hide in the huts. 

A contingent of the Royal Horse Guards, together with the 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

regiment's band, and led by three officers, had arrived to announce 
the Charter to Lobengula in the name of the Queen and to express 
her approval of the concession. Before the letter could be handed 
over to Lobengula it was shown to Dr Jameson who angrily tore 
'this unintelligible rubbish' to pieces, not in the least concerned 
that it came from a Minister of the Crown and was thus a State 
document. He sat down immediately and wrote another letter, 
more suited to Rhodes' purpose, which was presented to 
Lobengula as coming from the Queen. 

Lobengula received the delegation with dignity and closely 
inspected the escorting Guardsmen, He tapped their breast-pktes 
with his fingers and remarked to Jameson: 'Now I know that 
Babyaan was not telling me a lie when he said that the Great 
White Queen "clothed her soldiers in iron/ 

Dr Jameson declared himself satisfied with the 'excellent 
results' of his falsified letter on Lobengula, who was evidently 
deeply impressed. Nevertheless Lobengula still refused to discuss 
the question of 'giving the road' to Rhodes' men in his country 
through which ran the direct route to Mashonaland. The festival 
of the First Fruit was approaching. On that occasion the King 
would have to throw the sacred assegai to indicate to his impis 
the direction of their next raid. His unruly young warriors were 
pulling at the leash more than ever. They had already threatened 
loudly to kill all white men in Bulawayo. Where should he send 
them? He could not possibly let them loose on Mashonaland. 
There they would without doubt dash with Rhodes' men. In 
the east, as he had learnt, Portuguese impis were massing, waiting 
for a reason to make an inroad on his territory. To the north? 
He knew that the King of Barotseland had just asked the Great 
White Queen to give him protection. To the west? There stood 
Shippard's Bechuanaland Police. To the south? Should he 
provoke a repetition of history and have his men decimated by 
the Boers? . . . There was nowhere to go! . . 

Tens of thousands of eyes were focused on the King. The 
men stood lined up, breathless from the intoxicating wildness of 
their war-dance. Their deafening shouts rose still higher when 
Lobengula slowly raised himself from his seat, a lion-kaross slung 
over his shoulders, with long monkey tails dangling from 
the leopard-skin around his waist and on his head the royal 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

rubber-ring with a long single heron-feather. His head held 
high and stretching himself to his full height, he walked with 
ceremonious steps to the centre. 'Nankul Nankul There he is!' 

Lobengula received the sacred spear from an old induna. He 
grasped it with firm hands and whirled it round and round in an 
ecstatic dance. Breathlessly they waited to see in which direction 
the spear would be thrown. Suddenly the King stopped and with 
the utmost vehemence drove the spear into the ground. Bitter 
silence settled on the crowd. In the silence the King walked 
slowly, leaning on the sacred spear, towards his hut. 

Many months passed. According to Rhodes' latest reports to 
Dr Jameson, it seemed that Selous had indicated a possibility of 
entering Mashonaland by another direct route for which a road 
would first have to be made. The vexatious passage through 
Matabeleland and the consequent possibility of a clash with 
Lobenguk's impis would thus be avoided. Lobengula would 
merely be required to close his eyes to Rhodes* march into 
Mashonaland. The King, however, justly claimed Mashonaland 
as an integral part of his kingdom. His father's impis had con- 
quered it and the Mashonas accepted the Matabele as their 
masters. To Lobengula Mashonaland represented a valuable asset 
from where he collected considerable taxes and drew his supply 
of slaves. Tens of thousands of head of cattle, forming a great 
part of his wealth, were permanently put there to graze. 

In May 1890 after Dr Jameson had been at the royal kraal for 
four months he thought that it was time he returned to civiliza- 
tion. He felt that Lobengula's evasiveness might continue for 
ever if he did not put him under the pressure of an ultimatum. 
He prepared his departure, and went to take his leave of Loben- 
gula. He saw the King lying on his sleeping-mat stark naked, 
staring into space and apparently deep in thought. When he 
refused to listen to him, Dr Jameson broke off abruptly with the 
words: 'Good-bye, King, you've given me your promise about 
the road. On the strength of that promise, I'll bring in my impi 
to Mashonaland. Otherwise there will be war!' 

When he had returned to South Africa in August 1889, with 
the Charter concluded and only still to be officially proclaimed 
by the Queen, Rhodes had felt that he was the ruler of a country 
twice the size of the United Kingdom, but which still had to be 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

conquered. The long months of negotiations had played havoc 
with his nerves. In South Africa it was Cecil Rhodes who set the 
pace. Now he wanted to start out immediately on his march to 
the North, or, as he now preferred to say, 'up yonder*. He wanted 
to begin with the railway and telegraph lines which he was 
obliged to build according to the terms of the Charter. The 
Colonial Office made no move to supply him with the required 
material. Perhaps they first wanted cash? He cabled to them 
asking to whom he should make the payment. After a week he 
received their reply: *No so fast; you must wait until the Charter 
is granted.' 

He was kept busy. De Beers and the Goldfields needed his 
attention. The mines in Kimberley were running smoothly, but 
in Johannesburg the gold-boom which had started in 1887 had 
been in its fullest bloom until the latter half of 1889 when prices 
suddenly collapsed and the get-rich-quick brotherhood had to 
interrupt its dance around the golden calf. 

Rhodes encountered great difficulties in Johannesburg. The 
Rothschilds were not satisfied with his liberal jockeying of funds 
out of De Beers and the Goldfields into the Chartered Company. 
At a shareholders' meeting of Goldfields, they, together with 
other shareholders, refused to allow an increase of its capital by 
120,000 for investing in Chartered shares and also demanded 
that the Company sell all its stock of De Beers* shares. 

Any interference by shareholders, even by members of the 
board of directors, Rhodes regarded as an insult which he would 
not stand. In his anger he wrote to Rudd: 

Goldfields have behaved disgracefully and I am thinking of 
resigning, but shall await your decision. I have no intention of 
working for these fellows for the balance of my life. 

The threat, of course, was not meant seriously, but as usual 
Rhodes had employed the right tactics: Goldfields subscribed 
heavily to the Chartered shares, 

As a result of a few lucky incidents the position on the Rand 
changed overnight. Rich coal-fields were discovered in the 
Transvaal, and consequently the exorbitant price of coal dropped 
to a point where also the poorer gold-mines could be worked on 
a profitable basis. Fears that the reef would pass out at a greater 
depth proved to be unfounded. The greatest innovation, which 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

brought about the salvation of the Industry, consisted of a cyanide 
process by means of which gold could be extracted from the ore 
up to 95 per cent. 

The hectic days of boom, this time in a form wilder than ever 
before, descended once more on Johannesburg, and seemed to 
settle there as a permanent condition, spreading also to the share 
markets of London and the Continent. Into Johannesburg there 
now streamed a fresh crowd from all parts of the world. 

The birth of this cosmopolitan town of 50,000 inhabitants, 
three-quarters of whom were British, only forty-odd miles from 
his country's capital, was regarded by President Kruger and his 
government with divided feelings. Uitlanders foreigners in 
Johannesburg akeady outnumbered the Boers considerably, and 
were asking for the franchise. 

In England the growth of a British enclave in the heart of the 
Transvaal did not pass unnoticed. The Saturday Review predicted 
prophetically that 'the actual owners of the soil* in Kruger's 
country would soon dwindle into *an insignificant minority'. 
The Times considered it necessary to point out that 'the subject is 
assuming proportions that must soon engage the attention of the 
Imperial Government . . . the transformation which has only just 
begun, must be carried further until the political power now 
monopolized by the Boers is shared with the preponderating mass 
of new citizens mainly of British descent'. It was also the first but 
not by far the last time that The Times expressed the hope that 
the ticklish question of the Uitlander franchise would be easier 
to settle when the sixty-six-year-old President Kruger would 'pay 
the debt of nature*. 

Wishing to find a means of meeting this precarious situation 
which would be just to his own people as well as to the Uitlanders, 
President Kruger went to Johannesburg to gain his own im- 
pressions. He was to address a mass meeting of local residents and 
also hear their opinions. When the President appeared on the plat- 
form and was about to begin his speech, a few young hooligans 
thought it a good opportunity for expressing their patriotism 
in musical form by singing 'Rule Britannia'. President Kruger, 
having watted in the expectation that someone would restore 
order, began to show signs of anger. With a contemptuous look 
he shouted at the gleeful singers: *bly stil keep quiet/ They 
burst into roars of laughter. The President turned his back on 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

them, took his hat and walked with dignity out of the hall. He 
returned immediately to Pretoria, Later he heard that on the same 
night two ruffians of Uitlanders had climbed on the roof of the 
landrosfs building, the seat of the district administrator, and 
had pulled down the VierkJeur the flag of the Transvaal and 
trampled on it. 

Judging by these two incidents, one can understand why 
President Kruger did not consider the Johannesburg rabble 
worthy of becoming burghers of the Transvaal. By the weight 
of their numbers they might soon push his Boers against the wall. 

Rhodes did not take great interest in the Rand at all. The 
Goldfields merely had to help supply him with the means to 
materialize his 'dreams'. In Kimberley he was the master and 
dictator. On the Rand he was only one among many, and his old 
opponent, J. B. Robinson, saw to it that Rhodes should not 
repeat his Kimberley manoeuvres of obtaining a monopoly. In 
Rhodes' mind there existed nothing but the North. Though he 
was duly re-elected in his old constituency of Barkly West in 
1888 he could not spare the time to attend the session in 1889. 
He felt that he would first have to consolidate his political 
position in South Africa in order to win over the Cape Parlia- 
ment for his drive 'up yonder*. By his alliance with the Colonial 
Office and with British capital and by seeking and accepting a 
Royal Charter for the exploration of the North, Rhodes had 
sinned against his own much-publicized demand of 'eliminating 
the Imperial Factor'. It was now up to him to make this contra- 
diction plausible to Hofmeyr and the Bond and also to make his 
approaching conquest of Mashonaland sufficiently palatable to 
them, since the 'Mole' still maintained that the North really fell 
within the sphere of interest of the Transvaal. He needed the 
Bond's collaboration in order to win over the Cape Parliament 
for his northern railway projects. He could not 'square* a man 
like Hofmeyr with Chartered shares, though these shares, with 
a guaranteed immediate profit of z to 3 each, had appeased 
the conscience of several other Bondsmen. Hofmeyr remained 
sceptical. When he met Rhodes after his return from London 
with the Charter he taxed him: 

'You have got hold of the Interior, now be generous. Let us 
down gently.' 

Rhodes shook his hand and said: TH take you with mel* 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Now that It could no longer do him any harm to be repotted 
in England as a dangerous anti-Imperialist ready to 'cut the 
painter', he let himself go in condemning a British Colonial policy 
which allowed Africa to be mapped out in Berlin. He told his 
voters in Barkly West: 

. . . My belief is that the development of South Africa should fall 
to that country or countries which by their progress shall show that 
they are best entitled to it; and I have faith that, remote as our starting 
point is, the development will occut through the Cape Colony; 

that we shall be able to obtain the dominant position throughout 

the interior . . . and I have confidence that the people of the Cape 
Colony have the will, and the pluck, and the energy to adopt this 
as their inheritance, 

In spite of these pompous words, Rhodes preferred to have his 
conquest of the North organized by English dukes, financed by 
international stock exchange gamblers, sanctioned by the British 
Crown and directed by the Colonial Office. There was certainly 
nothing South African about the British South Africa Chartered 
Company, the head office of which was in London and on the 
Board of which was not to be found a single South African. Only 
when it came to pulling the hot chestnuts out of the fire and when 
he needed courageous young men to do the dirty work connected 
with the annexation, did he want South Africans. In return he 
gave them only words, high-sounding phrases and empty slogans 
such as: 

When we commenced that policy of taking over the North and 
you must not give me the sole credit the thought that guided me 
in my ideas was that the world was limited, and that the country to 
which we all belong should have as much of it as it could possibly 
get. This was a consideration which affected, not only the people 
at home, but the people here, including not only English but Dutch. 
If we are a great people, it is because we are an amalgamation of 
races. . . . 

Such words were meant principally to flatter the Bond and to 
destroy any suspicions of his imperialistic aspirations. Hofmeyr 
could not be so easily deceived. Facts and figures of stock exchange 
transactions with Chartered shares spoke too loudly against 
Rhodes' sincerity. At one time, at the beginning of 1890, Rhodes 
was seriously contemplating whether it would not be better for 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

him to do without political fetters and drop his Parliamentary 
activities. He had already decided to resign from Parliament but 
friends, especially Merriman and some young Liberals, men like 
Sauer, Molteno and Schreiner, persuaded him to remain. They 
had appealed to him previously to 'give his time and attention to 
other things than mining . . . to the politics of this Colony and 
the States adjoining in fact the whole of South Africa*. The 
suggestion that he should aspire to the Premiership of the Cape 
and that they would gladly serve under him received from him 
a willing ear. Master of Kimberley Dictator of the North 
Prime Minister of the Cape . . . was not this the road towards 
the Presidency of a Federated Greater South Africa? As Prime 
Minister, Rhodes predicted, quite accurately, he would get on 
much better with the newly appointed Governor, Robinson's 
successor, than if he came to him as a representative of the 
Chartered Company to ask for favours. Hofmeyr and the Bond, 
however, would have the last word, since every Cabinet depended 
on their grace. 

He was now determined to throw in his lot fully with the 
Bond. He needed the Afrikaners in order to fight 'Kragerism', 
which, with its racial, nationalistic and religious insularity, and its 
aim of hegemony in South Africa under the Transvaal Vierkhur y 
threatened the success of a federation of South Africa. This 
danger could only be fought hand in hand with the Bond. 
Hofmeyr was also striving for a South African federation and 
believed that out of a complete amalgamation of Dutch and 
British there should grow a South African nation as an indepen- 
dent part of the British Empire, endowed with complete home rule. 

Rhodes played up to the Bondsmen, most of whom were 
farmers, by referring to his ancestors as simple British yeomen, 
though only a few months previously in London, in order to 
impress his new feudal connections, he had promoted the ances- 
tral cattle-dealers to the status of gentry. He went on a 'daring 
raid' to Paarl, the idyllic little town where the Bond had been 
founded and which was venerated as the citadel of ware Afrikaner- 
dom, and showed the Bondsmen a heart throbbing with anxiety 
for the welfare of the Afrikaner boer: * We must protect our grain 
and our wine and whatever the country can produce. . . . First 
of all let us see that when the farmer puts his plough into the 
soil, he reaps a profitable harvest. . . .* 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

He went to Stelienbosch, the seat of Afrikaner learning, to 
address the young Afrikaner students at the Victoria College on 
graduation day* When Rhodes had finished his speech the head 
student, a slender youth, stepped on the platform. There was 
something arrogant in his bearing, yet his face, too serious in 
contrast to his youthful appearance, expressed the humility of a 
scholar. His personality impressed more than it attracted. It 
seemed to lack the warmth of emotional power. 

His words, in spite of an initial shyness, came forth in well- 
formed phrases; his deeply reflected thoughts were expressed in 
a sonorous and flexible voice cleverly employed to bring out 
intended oratorical effects. He spoke of Pan-Africanism. Rhodes 
immediately ceased to look bored and listened with interest to 
what was a pleasing tune to his ears. Afterwards he inquired after 
the name of this youngster: Jan Christiaan Smuts, he was told, 
aged twenty, the son of a Cape farmer. Later he told Hofmeyr: 
*Keep your eye on that young fellow Smuts!' 

In order to please Hofmeyr, Rhodes gave way to many of his 
demands. He consented to religious school education, to the 
cancellation of all Sunday train services and to a disfranchisement 
of "raw* Natives. Hofmeyr had to pay for these favours by voting 
with the Bond against motions disagreeable to Rhodes such as, 
for instance, 'an export fax on diamonds, suggested as one of 
his many means of vengeance by the 'Buccaneer*. 

These political meanderings were, of course, only part of 
Rhodes* northern scheme, meant principally to cover his rear in 
the Cape by neutralizing the Bond. At the same time he wished 
to protect the northern territories from further German, Portu- 
guese and Belgian penetration, to eliminate Krugerism, to finance 
his railway projects and to organize the pending occupation and 
the future policing of Mashonaland in the cheapest possible way. 
As Prime Minister of the Cape all these objects would certainly 
be attained smoothly and quickly. 

If Britain preferred to colonize *on the cheap* by means of 
private enterprise why should not Cecil Rhodes follow her 
example and let someone else pay for the expensive business of 
invading and occupying a large country? Rhodes had therefore 
conceived a plan whereby the Bechuanaland Police, which had 
been brought to a strength of about 800 men, should serve as 
a military protection to his pioneers by keeping Lobengula's impis 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

in check. If good old Sir Hercules had still been ruling in Cape 
Town's Government House no difficulties would have been laid 
across his path. It was going to prove rather more difficult, if not 
impossible, to twist the old Governor's successor. Sir Henry 
Brougham Loch, around one's little finger. Downing Street had 
not looked with favour at the close financial interest of the former 
Governor in Rhodes' industrial enterprises. Sir Henry, they were 
certain, could not be 'squared* by anyone. 

Carefully briefed and thoroughly warned, Loch came to South 
Africa with a slight bias against, and a strong distrust of, Rhodes. 
Still kept informed by his old friends about all happenings in 
Government House, Rhodes decided to overcome the new 
Governor's antipathy by taking him *on the personal*. He had not, 
however, expected quite such a brusque refiisal to his suggestion 
of using the Bechuanaland Police for his march into Mashonaland. 
Even his offer to pay for their work Loch brushed aside curtly* 
The Governor demanded categorically a proper military force 
organized and paid for by the Chartered Company. 

Rhodes consulted military experts who told him that he would 
need at least 2,500 men for the invasion and occupation. Impos- 
sible! It would eat up at once the Chartered Company's entire 
capital of i million. Rhodes remembered that Selous had men- 
tioned a plan of how to invade Mashonaland without passing 
through Matabeleland. Unfortunately he was at that moment not 
on very good terms with Selous as the hunter was one of the 
few in Bulawayo who had not received any compensation for his 
justified claims. One would need Selous now if only to keep him 
quiet! Selous knew Lobengula's realm better than anyone else, 
and, what was still more important, Selous, Rhodes was told, had 
enough proof to show that Mashonaland was a country indepen- 
dent of Lobengula. In Selous 5 opinion Mashonaland had never 
been conquered by the Matabele. There was no doubt, he 
maintained, that the Rudd concession, having no legal standing, 
was invalid and the Charter thus granted under false pretences. 

In order to put some pressure on Rhodes, Selous secured a 
concession from one of the Mashona chiefs. But Rhodes was not 
unduly worried, knowing how easy it was to obtain the signature 
of a poor credulous chief. On the other hand, he did not want a 
man of Selous' reputation in the enemies' camp and therefore 
considered it wiser to appease him. In his talk with Selous, 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Rhodes argued heatedly about the -value of thek concessions. 
Selous, as an experienced hunter, remained calm, and aimed at 
Rhodes* most vulnerable spot: his fear of adverse publicity in the 
English Press. Casually Selous remarked that he had prepared 
articles for some English papers advocating his views on the 
question. Rhodes saw at once, as he reported to the Duke of 
Abercorn in a letter dated March 1890, 'the danger of our position 
if a series of articles appeared in the papers from a man of Selous' 
position. . . .* It cost Rhodes 2,000 ('out of my own private 
fund*) to settle with Selous and win Mm over to his side for the 
onslaught on Mashonaland. Selous now showed great enthu- 
siasm. He had a private account to settle with Lobengula who 
had thrown him out of Bulawayo and forbidden him ever to set 
foot in Matabeleland again. Selous later explained his strange 
change of attitude by saying that he had then been in a very bad 
position financially anfd had therefore accepted a position in the 
Chartered Company as Adviser for the Mashonaland occupation. 
His acquisition was a windfall for Rhodes' company, even at the 
high salary of 3,000 a year, since there was no one whose 
knowledge of the Interior could compare with that of Selous'. 

According to Selous' plan Matabeleland would be avoided 
altogether by building a road about 400 miles long from the 
border of British Bechuanaland leading directly to the eastern 
slopes of Mashonaland. Besides prospecting for gold, they could 
start bringing in settlers to cultivate this fertile land. Again 
Rhodes shuddered when he thought of the costs even with cheap 
Native labour. Another, cheaper way had to be found. The idea 
came to him of collecting a couple of hundred well-armed adven- 
turous young men, paying them well and setting out on a sudden 
raid on Bulawayo, capturing fat *Lob* and making him accept 
the fait accomplil 

In his casual way Rhodes discussed this mad pkn with several 
people, one of whom, after having wined well, boasted of how 
lie would soon throw over the whole lot of bloody Kaffir chiefs 
and conquer all the Interior with a handful of chaps. This sodden 
talk came to the ears of Sir Henry Loch, who told Rhodes that 
silly rumours of an intended raid into Matabeleland were being 
passed round but that he had laughed them off as he could not 
imagine that Rhodes would run title risk of having his Charter 
recalled. . . . Rhodes took the hint. He had now to accept Selous' 

[200] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

plan. But the more he pondered over it the more desperate did 
he become, all the more so because Dr Jameson from Bulawayo 
was urging him co hurry since he could not keep Lobengula 
sweet much longer. 

Deeply worried, Rhodes was sitting at breakfast in the 
Kimberley Club when he saw the familiar, dark round face of 
little Frank Johnson. Though only twenty-three years old, this 
youngster had already shown his smartness, courage and business 
acumen in many a deal. He had been one of the many concession- 
hunters in Bulawayo, but had carried little favour with Lobengula. 
Rhodes, always keen to squeeze information out of others, invited 
him to his table. Rhodes began to talk, or rather think aloud, 
about Mashonaland, cursing those arrogant military experts who 
tried to make one believe that it would take 2,500 men, and at 
Colonial pay at that, for that little excursion to Mashonaland. 
Ridiculous 1 

Little Johnson agreed. He himself, he said, would venture on 
such an expedition with about 200 men, picked volunteers, at very 
small expense. 

By lunch-time Johnson showed Rhodes sheets of paper covered 
with figures which gave an account of what he would need for 
200 men in provisions, wagons, oxen, implements, arms, uniforms 
and horses. Rhodes, not interested in the details, became impatient 
and tried to pull out the last sheet with the final figure. But 
Johnson insisted on showing him each item until he concluded: 
* . . And the whole amounts to exactly 94,100.' Five days kter 
Rhodes signed a cheque for that amount. 

When Rhodes submitted the new plan to the Governor, Sir 
Henry expressed his doubts about the safety of such an expedition 
without military cover and again demanded that Rhodes should 
provide protection by an adequate police force. Rhodes, still 
fighting shy of the expense, again suggested that the Bechuana- 
land Police should do the policing of Mashonaland and that he 
would pay for it. When Rhodes became insistent the Governor 
rang for his secretary and dictated a cable to the Colonial Office 
in which he reported Rhodes* suggestion and asked them to 
consider the repudiation of the Charter in the event of Rhodes* 
further insistence. 

At last Rhodes was made to understand that Sir Henry Loch 
was not the man to accept instructions from him. He was forced 

[201] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

to organize the British South Africa Chartered Company Police 
Force, consisting of about 500 men and at Colonial pay! 

On 10 March 1890 there stood on parade in Kimberley 184 
hand-picked pioneers, weU armed and in smart uniforms, each 
one as fine a specimen of South African manhood as one could 
wish for. In each one of them there burned the lust for adventure, 
the love of a free life on the veld and the hope of finding a secure 
future in a new and unknown land which would be conquered 
by their own hands. In Mashonaland each would be rewarded by 
a 3,ooo-acre farm and fifteen gold claims but until then they had 
to be satisfied with 71. 6 d. a day. 

The pioneers first went to a spot on the northern frontier of 
Bechuanaland, where they were met by the Chartered Police and 
200 Bechuanas hired from King Khama as road-makers and 
guides. Selous was there and Dr Jameson arrived from Bulawayo. 

On Selous' advice two selected pure-bred white bulls were 
sent to Lobenguk as a present which, according to Matabele 
custom, indicated the peaceful intentions of the giver. When after 
two days the messengers arrived to report Lobengula's acceptance 
Dr Jameson performed a dance of mad delight: 'That's all right! 
That will save us a lot of trouble!' 

On 27 June 1890 Selous gave the signal for advance and the 
five hundred-odd men set out and made history. They endured 
the hazards of an almost tropical life with stoicism. These were 
not professional soldiers or down-and-out adventurers, but 
average young South Africans, most of them accustomed to a 
life of comfort and ease. Over them there always hovered the 
shadow of Lobengula. Twice he sent one of his indunas under 
impi-e&CQtt with the King's order to the columns to leave the 
country. Selous' fears grew: the wild bushy territory was simply 
inviting an ambush in the traditional Matabele style. 

Lobenguk, in his ignorance and keen belief in superstitions, 
must have thought, when he received the reports of his scouts, 
that the White Man had come to rob him of Ms country with the 
help of magic. What could poor lonely Lobengula do with all the 
might of his courageous impis against the witchcraft of the 'Man 
who made the Big Hole', who could make the sun and if his 
impis did not He even two or three suns shine in the darkness 
of the night with a brilliance that hurt the eyes? What could poor 
lost Lobengula do against these white magicians who could 

[202] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

produce storms with lightning sparks as high as mountains and 
make the ground roar and thunder so that the soil was thrown 
high into the air, leaving big holes into which a whole hut 
could fit? 

With an eye on Native superstitions Selous had equipped the 
columns with powerful naval searchlights. The awe-inspiring 
thunderstorms were produced by dynamite charges laid outside 
the camp at night and periodically exploded by an electric wire. 

On 15 August the columns reached the high veld and were 
now out of danger. A fort was erected named Fort Victoria, and 
another farther north, Fort Charter, to secure their line of com- 
munication. On ii September 1890,, well within ninety days as 
guaranteed by Johnson and Selous, they arrived at Mt. Hampden, 
their goal, destined to become the future centre of the Chartered 
country. A strong fort was built there and given the name of 
Salisbury in honour of the British Prime Minister. 

It had been Rhodes' intention to accompany the pioneers on 
their march. Hofrneyr, however, had asked him to stay in Cape 
Town as a political crisis was calling for a change in government. 
The Governor sent for Rhodes to form a new government, and 
Rhodes accepted the mandate provided that Hofmeyr would come 
in with him. Hofmeyr declined but promised the full support of 
the Bond. On 17 July, a few days after his pioneers had crossed 
the border into Mashonaland, Cecil Rhodes, turned thirty-seven 
years old a few days earlier, became Prime Minister of the Cape 
Colony. 

Rhodes did not find it as easy to form a Cabinet as to select 
the board of directors of a company, but finally he got together 
what he described as the 'Ministry of All the Talents* which in- 
cluded several prominent Cape Liberals such as his friends 
Merriman^ Sauer and Rose-Innes. 

His first parliamentary effort as Prime Minister turned out to 
be disappointing, Rhodes was unprepared in his subject a Ballot 
Bill and was very nervous, spoke badly and was almost inaudible 
to the House. The result of the first division resulted in a majority 
of one. 

On 21 July came the expected attack in Parliament on his dual 
position as Prime Minister and Director of the Chartered Com- 
pany to which Rhodes replied rather weakly that 'one position 
could be worked with the other, and each to the benefit of alT, 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Many serious politicians and unbiased members of the public 
foresaw that Rhodes' not only dual but triple position would lead 
to unpleasant complications. It was pointed out that Rhodes, the 
Premier, would have to deal with contracts entered into with 
Rhodes, the Director of Chartered, and that Rhodes, the Premier, 
would have to decide important matters concerning Rhodes, the 
Diamond monopolist, Rhodes, the Goldfields Director, and 
Rhodes, the railway contractor. Olive Schreiner, the eminent 
South African authoress, expressed the feelings of many in the 
country when she wrote: 

The only big man we have here is Rhodes and the only big thing 
the Chartered Company. I feel a nervous, and almost painfully 
intense interest in the man and his career. I am so afraid of his 
making a mistake, as he would do, I think, if he accepted the Prime 
Ministership of this Colony, as there is some talk of his doing. I 
don't see how he can play the hand of the Chartered Company and 
the hand of the Colony at the same time. 

Hofmeyr, when worried politicians asked him his opinion, 
replied that he preferred Rhodes to be exposed in his multiple 
private capacities to criticism by Parliament, which would be 
possible by censuring him as Premier, than to let him do what he 
liked without having to render account to the general public. 

Others feared that Rhodes' expansive policy would involve the 
country in great expenses while the profits derived from such 
adventures would probably flow into the pockets of the share- 
holders of Rhodes* various companies. Voices were heard com- 
plaining about Rhodes' practice of 'squaring' the people whom 
he needed and that his activity in this respect, with the help of 
Chartered shares, was already noticeable in the changed attitude 
of several Bondsmen. A danger existed, they said, of a general 
corruption of public opinion by such nefarious methods and a 
further danger that he would now apply to the whole country his 
unpleasant spy-system which he had woiked out to perfection in 
Kimberley. Men with so much money at their disposal, they 
feared, and with such great political and economic powers, might 
easily use their chances as a jumping-board into permanent 
dictatorial independence. 

The English Tory Press hailed his nomination with great satis- 
faction. A writer in the August issue of The Nineteenth Century^ 

[204] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

after reminding the new Prime Minister that *to implant English 
rule in all the outlying places of the Globe is the manifest destiny 
of our race', proceeded to teach him: 

... If the Dutch settlers set themselves ia the way of development 
of South Africa after our British fashion, they will have to go to 
the wall. The principle of the survival of the fittest has decided that 
in the end it is the British, not the Dutch, element that must be 
supreme in the Cape as elsewhere. 

This chauvinistic outburst did not tally with Rhodes' official 
policy, which had as its chief aim a reconciliation of Englishmen 
and Afrikaners with the prospect of a federation of all South 
African states, a union which he expected to be brought about 
by Free Trade, a Railway Convention, a Customs Union and 
'closer and closer ties between the Cape and the neighbouring 
States'. However, with his finger raised in warning at the 
Transvaal about its own drive towards a federation under its 
Vierfdeur flag, he said: 

It is customary to speak of a United South Africa as possible, 
within the near future. If we mean a complete Union with the same 
flag, I see very serious difficulties. I know myself that I am not 
prepared at any time to forfeit my flag. . . . 

What would happen if 'the same flag* was the Union Jack, the 
speaker did not reveal; but it was interesting to learn that the 
Prime Minister or was it the Director of the Chartered Company 
speaking? expressed the certainty that Vithin [his] lifetime the 
limits of the Cape Colony will stretch as far as the Zambezi', 
which would certainly be good business for the gentlemen of 
the Board and the shareholders of his Company, though the 
territory of this company was by Royal Charter meant to be part 
of the Empire under the direct control of Whitehall and not of 
the Cape. Rhodes once again, to please the Bond, wore the coat 
of the Colonial protagonist to scare away the Imperial Factor*. 

As a result of Salisbury's policy of appeasement and his fear of 
expensive Colonial adventures, France, Portugal, Belgium and 
Germany had all been allowed to swallow large slices of Central 
Africa while Britain looked on. Salisbury's enthusiasm about the 
Cape to Cairo route had not lasted long. 

[Z0 5 ] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Rhodes did not realize that changed conditions in European 
politics had forced England to re-direct her foreign policy in the 
last months. Therefore the latest moves in Downing Street con- 
cerning problems in Central Africa seemed to him enigmatic, 
contradictory and suicidal. 

In March 1890 'the Pilot was dropped* in Berlin and WUhelm II 
declared that he would from now on as c his own Chancellor* steer 
the ship of State along 'the new course". The Kaiser wanted to 
draw Britain into an Alliance which Salisbury tried to evade by 
all kinds of pretexts. Salisbury was willing to go so far as to *keep 
in step with Germany* and even to make concessions in Africa. 
He therefore rejected the treaties which Stanley had made with 
various Native chiefs by which an all-British corridor from Lake 
Tanganyika to the Sudan would have been established and the 
Cape to Cairo route secured. 

Germany immediately claimed these territories as falling within 
her sphere of influence. Britain protested only half-heartedly. This 
surrender, particularly of the Lake districts, could have been 
avoided since the Kaiser, not wishing to irritate England in view 
of other, more important, negotiations taking place at the time, 
had given instructions to the German Ambassador to drop the 
matter if Britain were insistent. Thus all Stanley's trouble and 
the propaganda campaign he had instigated c to poke up the 
British Lion ? had been in vain* On i July 1890 the Anglo-German 
Treaty was signed by which Britain gave Heligoland in exchange 
for Germany's consent to British influence over Nyasaland and 
the north-eastern corner of Mashonaland including the Stevenson 
Road, Uganda and the territories in the North beyond the Juba 
River to the confines of Egypt. In the south-west Britain conceded 
to Germany a strip of land, afterwards called "Caprivi ZipfeP. 

Rhodes and his friends raised a storm of indignation over this 
cession of the 'wasp-waist' to Germany by means of which the 
German south-west Colony was brought up to the Zambezi. 
They were still more aagry when they heat d that Salisbury had 
agreed to Germany's driving a wedge between Lake Nyasa and 
Tanganyika, thus cutting off for ever an all-British Cape to 
Cairo route. 

Salisbury replied in Parliament that the only criticism "had 
arisen from a very curious idea which has become prevalent in 
this country that there is some special advantage in handling a 

[206] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

stretch of territory extending all the way from Cape Town to the 
sources of the Nile*. 

To the Queen, Lord Salisbury reported his real intentions in 
signing the treaty: 

. . . any indefinite postponement of a settlement in Africa would 
render it very difficult to maintain terms of amity with Germany, 
and would force us to change our system of alliance in Europe. The 
alliance of France instead of the alliance of Germany must necessarily 
involve the early evacuation of Egypt under very unfavourable 
conditions. 

Rhodes, who naturally knew nothing of Salisbury's true 
motives, rose in Parliament exactly eleven days after becoming 
Prime Minister, to give notice of the following motion: 

That this House regrets that the Government of this country was 
not directly represented in the recent arrangement entered into 
between the British Government and the German Empire in so far 
as those arrangements affected Territories south of the Zambezi and 
is of opinion that the Government of this colony should have a 
voice in any future proposed arrangement of boundaries south of 
that river. 

Still worse was to come. Shortly before the pioneers had 
reached their goal in Mashonaland, Rhodes learnt that Lord 
Salisbury, on 20 August 1890, had signed a Convention with 
Portugal ceding the greater part of Barotseland and the whole 
of Manicaland to Portugal. Rhodes, who considered it a personal 
affront if Whitehall dared to make any move on the African 
continent without first consulting him, bombarded Downing 
Street with complaints, reproaches and fulminations. He wrote 
to the Foreign Office: 

I do not think I am claiming too much from your department in 
asking you to give some consideration to my views . . . and if you 
have any regard for the work I am doing, you will show it by now 
dropping the Anglo-Portuguese agreement. 

Rhodes and his associates then showed and unfortunately it 
was not the last occasion upon which they did so how such 
complex colonial problems could be solved over the heads of 
governments, cabinets, ministers and diplomats. Shortly after his 

[207] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

arrival In Fort Salisbury, Archibald Colquhoun, who had been 
nominated Administrator of the Chartered territories, together 
with Dr Jameson and Seious and a handful of Chartered police, 
had gone into Manicaland and made an agreement with the Chief 
by which, for the annual sum of 100, his country was ceded to 
the Chartered Company. This territory had been exploited for 
some time by a Portuguese syndicate. After learning of the agree- 
ment between the Chief and the Chartered Company the directors 
of the Portuguese syndicate charged a colourful adventurer, 
Manuel Antonio de Souza, also known as Captain Mor Goveia, 
a half-caste who specialized in gun- and rum-tunning, slave traffic 
and smuggling, to invade the Manica Chief's kraal and arrest him. 

In an operetta-skirmish on 15 November 1890, Dr Jameson 
with a platoon of Chartered police overran the kraal, dispersed 
the Portuguese * occupation army 7 , arrested Goveia and a director 
of the Portuguese syndicate and sent them as 'prisoners of war' 
under escort to Cape Town. The Chartered Company was thus 
in full possession of Manicaland. 

Since Dr Jameson's action, and the train of thought which 
moved him to infringe all existing civil, criminal and inter- 
national laws, and also Rhodes* attitude towards this assumption 
of authority by officials of the Chartered Company constituted a 
remarkable precedent, it becomes necessary to make a closer 
investigation of the incident. 

The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty was concluded on 20 August 
1890. It can be assumed that the news of it had reached South 
Africa within at most a couple of days. Immediately after the 
pioneers had reached Fort Salisbury a postal service was estab- 
lished in Mashonaland and it was officially stated that a letter to 
Rhodes arrived at the first Bechuanaland postal station within 
five days. From Kimberley to Bechuanaland the weekly mail- 
coaches covered the 400 miles in three days. The treaty would 
have been known in the Company's headquarters at Fort Salisbury 
not later than 3 1 August. It can also be assumed that within the 
ten weeks till 1 5 November, Rhodes would have communicated 
with Dr Jameson, who was about 300 miles north of Fort Salis- 
bury, and given him his instructions. It is also more than question- 
able whether Rhodes and Dr Jameson would have incurred the 
high costs of a military expedition into Manicaland, or risked the 
loss of the Charter, if the British authorities, perhaps not in 

[208] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

London or at the Cape, but certainly his friend Shlppard in 
Bechuanaland, had not known about it. Perhaps this raid was the 
interpretation and practical demonstration of Lord Salisbury's 
answer to Rhodes' question of where to stop: 'Take all you can 
get and ask me afterwards.' No records exist which show that 
the Company was reprimanded for this action, 

The tactics which Rhodes used to acquire Barotseland were 
hardly more commendable. A Kimberley merchant had obtained 
a concession for this territory of 200,000 square miles from its 
Paramount Chief Lewanika. It passed into the hands of a 
Kimberley syndicate and was finally acquired by Rhodes for 
9,000 and 10,000 Chartered shares while the Chief received only 
an annual payment of 200 and 4 per cent royalty on mining. 
Lewanika had unsuccessfully asked the previous year for his 
country to be made a British protectorate. He now protested 
against the annexation by the Chartered Company. Rhodes tried 
to settle with the Chief on the basis of an increased annual pay- 
ment of 2,000, but Lewanika beseeched Sir Henry Loch to be 
accepted as a "Child of the Great White Queen*. With his letter 
he sent as a sign of his devotion two flawless large elephant tusks. 
The letter was intercepted by Sir Sidney Shippard upon whose 
recommendation the request was rejected and the tusks ended up 
as decorations in the board-room of the Chartered Company's 
London office, which strange fact the Daily Chronicle referred to 
as 'the meanest form of embezzlement, not from the Nation but 
from the Queen personally*. 

Now that the Company had established headquarters in Fort 
Salisbury, the pioneers were disbanded and they set out to peg 
their gold claims. Hundreds of adventurous men were streaming 
into Mashonaland. Rhodes was burning with a desire to see with 
his own eyes the land of his dreams and only when Sir Henry 
Loch notified him officially of the Government's objection that 
the Prime Minister of the country should expose himself to the 
danger of being captured by Natives which might call for the use 
of the whole military force of the Colony at the Government's 
expense to rescue him, did he postpone his trip. Loch did, how- 
ever, invite him to join his party which was to go to Bechuanaland 
as far as the Matabele border. 

Together with two parliamentarians, members of the Bond, as 
his guests Rhodes joined the Governor's ^expedition, consisting 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

of a Hussar escort, Bechuanaland Police and four big coaches 
laden only with provisions. Rhodes travelled alone in a Cape cart 
and kept aloof from the rest of the party. Just before sunset he 
would ride on ahead and choose the site for the camp. He chose 
the camp-sites not only for the beauty of their view but also for 
their cleanliness, A piece of paper, an old tin or a broken bottle 
would be sufficient reason for him to ride on* even if it meant 
having his dinner an hour later. In the morning he would insist 
that the camp was left as clean as it had been found* The same 
cleanliness he applied to himself in the veld: every day he appeared 
in a pair of immaculate white trousers, which did not remain 
clean for long, but of which Toni, his valet, an intelligent half- 
caste *Cape boy*, always had to keep a sufficient stock, his usual 
Norfolk jacket and a broad-brimmed slouch-hat. He shaved every 
morning, even when on trek: 'I believe I should shave if I were 
dying/ At about eleven o'clock a stop was always made to escape 
the midday heat and Rhodes, after fortifying himself with a bottle 
of champagne mixed with stout or Pilsener, would lie down in the 
shade of a tree. During the midday rest he would read pocket- 
editions of Marcus Aurelius, Plato's Dialogues and Gibbon or he 
would ponder over his crumpled old map of Africa, with compass, 
ruler, and pencil. 

Every precaution had to be taken against lions because the 
country was, as Rhodes put it, 'lousy with lions*. Once two native 
servants leading a beautiful chestnut, who had strayed behind, 
were missed and later the bones of both men and of the horse were 
found with evidence that they had been devoured by lions. Another 
morning Rhodes himself had an unpleasant encounter with a lion 
not far from the camp. He was seen running for his life towards the 
camp, his pyjama trousers dangling down to his knees. When he 
arrived, breathless, he swore loudly at that 'King of Beasts' which 
did not respect even unavoidable human hygienic functions. 

Finally they arrived at the farthest point of the Protectorate, 
Fort Macloutsie, from where Rhodes could look into the Land of 
Ophir. He wanted to go farther. Loch objected and was not 
particularly amiable after Rhodes* impolite sedusive behaviour on 
the way, which led him to speak of Rhodes as Very gruff and 
abrupt, not to say surly*. Rhodes, annoyed at being restrained 
from going to Mashonaland, replied in a voice which cracked 
into its highest register: 

[210] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

*I have not come on this tiresome journey merely to see the 
British Protectorate but my own protectorate? 

The Governor did not like this arrogant description of the 
Chartered Company's concessioned territory in Mashonaland and 
dutifully reported his resentment to Whitehall. As a compromise 
Rhodes agreed that he would go as far as Tuii, the Company's 
first station. 

On his way back from the North, Rhodes, in his new capacity 
as Prime Minister, wanted to look up President Kruger. 
This time a reception was arranged for him according to his 
position. A few miles outside Pretoria an officer saluted smartly 
when he met Rhodes' party and asked: 'Are these the wagons 
of President Rhodes?' Rhodes' red face indicated Ms embarrass- 
ment: 

'Well, I am Rhodes is there anything I can do for you?' He 
was welcomed as the guest of the Transvaal Government. Early 
the next morning he was fetched by a state-carriage and brought 
to the President's house under a military escort of honour. 
Together they drank coffee out of enormous cups and soon 
President Kruger was enveloped in clouds of smoke, which he 
puffed from his long-stemmed porcelain-headed pipe. 

Conversation was slow. Kruger did not want to discuss 
Rhodes' railway projects. He had declined to have the Cape to 
Kimberley line, which had reached the Vaal River less than 100 
miles from Pretoria., brought to his capital and had also objected 
to a railway connection with the Cape via Bloemfontein. Appar- 
ently he did not want any competition to his own railway, or, as 
he wanted to have it called, steam tramway, between Delagoa 
Bay and Pretoria, though it had not yet been completed owing 
to difficulties with the Portuguese Government, the shareholders 
and the constructors. Rhodes made great efforts to change the 
President's chilly attitude towards him: 

*We must work together, your honour, I know that the 
Republic needs a seaport. You must have Delagoa Bay/ 

An immense cloud of smoke was blown furiously out of the 
old man's mouth. Kruger, one could see, was having difficulty 
in controlling his temper. How dared this Englishman offer Mm 
a port which did not belong to him when he knew that the 
Transvaal had been striving for many years to obtain permission 
from Britain for an outlet to the sea in Swaziland? As soon as he 

[ZII] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

was sure that he had regained his usual calm Kruger answered 

quietly: 

'How can we work together that way? The port belongs to the 
Portuguese, and they will never give it up.' 

*We must simply take it.' 

*I can't take the property of other people. If the Portuguese 
will not sell it, I will not accept it, even if you were to offer it to 
me. A curse rests upon ill-gotten goods/ 

The audience ended abruptly and was just as futile as had been 
a meeting six months previously between President Kruger and 
Sir Henry Loch and Rhodes at Blignauts Pont, where Loch had 
declined to cede Swaziland to the Transvaal and had declared 
Swaziland independent. A governing committee of three, repre- 
senting Britain, the Transvaal and Swaziland was to have juris- 
diction over the Whites. The outlet to the sea was mentioned in 
very vague terms. As a condition for this Convention the 
Governor asked for an official renunciation by the Transvaal of 
all territories in the North. Loch warned Kruger that Britain 
would consider any move of the Transvaal into Matabeleland or 
Mashonaland as a Violation of the territory and an infringement 
of the right of KM. Government'. Though he was not at all 
satisfied with this Swaziland Convention, Kruger signed it, but 
it was never ratified. 

The vow of renunciation by the Transvaal was necessary to 
Rhodes because of the threat of an organized push of about 2,000 
Boers into Mashonaland behind which stood General Joubert 
Kruger was not really interested in this trek to the North and not 
only because his rival Joubert was connected with it. 

When Rhodes at the end of November 1890 returned from his 
visit to Pretoria he found Cape Town in the midst of a severe 
financial crisis which had followed upon the closing of the doors 
of the Cape's leading bank, the Good Hope Bank, and of other 
colonial banks. Rhodes also experienced a great reverse in the 
price of Chartered shares which dropped from 3 to I2j. Only 
by an immediate personal appearance in London would he be 
able to save the situation, and thus at the end of November he 
sailed for England. 

Soon after his arrival the Queen invited him, as the Prime 
Minister of the Cape, to dinner at Windsor. Her Majesty's interest 
in Rhodes was shown by the fact that he received the distinction 

[212] 



A COUNTRY FOR BREAKFAST 

of dining with her almost in private. Besides two ladies and two 
gentlemen of her personal suite Sir Henry Loch and Rhodes were 
the only guests. 

The Queen had been well informed by Loch of Rhodes* 
political and financial activities. She had a remarkable memory, 
particularly where it concerned even the slightest anti-monarchist 
tendencies in someone's past and the name of Rhodes had 
reminded her immediately of his utterance about the 'elimination 
of the Imperial Factor'. Loch was able to dispel her scruples 
about Rhodes* loyalty. With satisfaction she noted in her journal 
that according to Loch, Rhodes *a tremendous strong man* 
was *a very remarkable, honest, loyal man, and entirely anti- 
Republican'. 

After dinner the Queen astonished Rhodes by her extensive 
knowledge of South African affairs. Her clear and determined 
views on Africa's future showed the business-like brain of a 
statesman. Rhodes took her observations as a cue for delivering 
his romantic virtuoso piece about painting those empty spaces in 
Africa red, British red, leading into the climax of his performance, 
the never-failing refrain of the "Cape to Cairo* plan. The Queen 
was delighted. A very good judge of men, she decided that this 
"tremendous strong man* could be relied on to fulfil his plans. 
Translating from Rhodes' enthusiastic language, she concluded 
the entry in her journal with the simple words: 

. . . He said Great Britain was the only country fit to colonize, no 
other nation succeeded. He hoped in time to see the English rule 
extend from the Cape to Egypt. He thought everything would be 
arranged and the difficulties got over. 



[ZI 3 ] 



CHAPTER XII 

ON THE PERSONAL 

FOB. a place in which to make the laws of their land, people 
all over the world have built architectural absurdities in the 
form of medieval castles, Gothic cathedrals or Greek temples. 
A building was planned in 1874 for the Parliament of the Cape 
Colony which corresponded with these ideas in combining the 
features of a Renaissance palace, a classical theatre and the dome 
of a Baroque cathedral. The foundation-stone had already been 
laid when it was found that the design blatantly resembled a 
building in Illinois, that the foundation was faulty and that the 
costs would considerably exceed the stipulated amount. The plans 
were altered and the result was a red-brick monstrosity partly 
masked by sand-stone. Only clumsy Doric columns, completely 
out of style, remained of the architect's classical intentions, while 
the sun-heated glass roof reminded the perspiring law-makers 
during summer sessions of the intended colossal dome. After 
eleven years the building was completed at more than four times 
the original cost. Pressed into too narrow a space and without 
taking advantage of one of the world's most impressive views as 
background, Cape Town's House of Assembly presents an example 
of late Victorian architectural style at its worst. It looks like a 
public convenience with megalomaniac aspirations to become a 
Parthenon. 

Sitting on the front bench on Mr Speaker's right, his long legs 
stretched out, his bulky body clothed in a crumpled, poorly 
tailored white linen suit, Cecil Rhodes, the Cape's Prime Minister, 
sprawled on the reddish-brown leather seat and apparently took 
no interest in, or even notice of, the debate. One might have 
suspected that he was fast asleep had he not from time to time 
suddenly jerked into another position or drawn his right hand, 
inch by inch, from the depth of his trouser-pocket and started to 
stroke his chin slowly with Ms forefinger. Strangers who saw him 
for the first time were disappointed that this should be the great 
Cecil Rhodes, master of the Cape's politics, of the world's 



ON THE PERSONAL 

diamonds, and of one of the world's greatest fortunes, the man 
who held the destiny of Africa in his grasp. 

But those who knew Rhodes knew also that the dull, bored 
expression on his face was only a mask. It disappeared imme- 
diately, for example, when he was attacked for the delay In 
opening the railway which the Chartered Company had under- 
taken to build for the Cape Government a year before. A gleam 
appeared in his eyes. Though he did not change his recumbent 
position, his body was no longer relaxed. Every muscle seemed 
tensed for the spring. His right forefinger now stroked his chin 
furiously. He did away lightly with the attack, in a conversational 
tone such as he would have used when taking someone *on the 
personal*. Yes, he said, his Company had defaulted the contract, 
but it was his birthday today, his fortieth birthday, and had he 
not done well for his country? What was a year? . , . And thus 
Rhodes, the defaulter, defended by Rhodes the Prime Minister 
simultaneously representing the defaulted party, the Cape Colony, 
got away with it, and no one would have dreamt of asking the 
Government to apply the high penalty stipulated by the contract 
in the event of default. 

Though Rhodes was celebrating his fortieth birthday he gave 
the impression of being at least ten years older. His body had 
widened enormously at the waist, giving something elephantine 
to his appearance. Proudly he showed his friends the thick blue 
artery protruding on his wrist: 'Here you can see my heart beat. 
Nobody else has such a pulsei' 

His health had been deteriorating after a bad fall from his horse 
the previous December. The shock had upset his mind and body 
to such an extent that his heart ailment, together with a subsequent 
anxiety-neurosis, came once more into evidence and was aggra- 
vated by the enormous amount of work and worries connected 
with his manifold official duties and private interests. He never 
recovered from this -physical and mental breakdown. So as to 
keep himself in a condition in which he would be capable of 
attending to business, he doped himself liberally with champagne,' 
heavy wines and strong beer. He began to worry so much about 
his health that his friends, not aware of the true nature of his 
illness, took him for a hypochondriac or even for a coward. He 
was a bad patient and when he suffered physical pain 'tears trickled 
down his cheeks'. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

When the affected valves refused to perform their work as 
they should, Rhodes felt as if his whole heart was contracting 
in painful convulsive cramps. Fear of death would haunt him, the 
fear that sudden death would strike him, alone and lonely, and 
would take him away before his life's work was completed and 
his dreams fulfilled. 

He became increasingly impatient and gave vent to frequent 
temperamental outbursts. His tense nerves were reflected in the 
intensity of his thoughts, the rapidity of his decisions and the 
suddenness of his actions. A strong belief in his own infallibility, 
strengthened by the flattery of his sycophants, made him inacces- 
sible to advice on important questions. His rudeness, which at 
the beginning of his ascent had helped him overcome his feeling 
of social inferiority and which he later used, in the form of a large 
selection of the choicest expletives, as a safety-valve, could no 
longer be defined or excused in psychological terms. His choleric 
temperament had developed into calculated impudence. He often 
delighted in embarrassing people by his cutting remarks. One 
who knew him well spoke of his character as 'subject to the 
radical vice of phenomenal vindictiveness'. 

Often when he knew he had gone too far with a friend he felt 
real remorse and tried to patch it up by being demonstratively 
amiable. At other times, while bristling with anger and swearing 
at his friends in the most abominable language, Rhodes would 
try hard to bridle his passion. He would throw himself into a 
chair, stare at his opponent and mutter to himself breathlessly: 
*Now, let's talk this over quietly. Don't lose your temper. Keep 
calm keep perfectly calm and cool/ 

Rhodes, that 'bundle of inconsistencies* who could if he wished 
overflow with amiability, cultivated his rudeness as a personal 
characteristic to which he believed he was entitled as part of his 
unique personality. Once, at an official dinner in London, he sat 
next to a Cabinet Minister whom he bore an old grudge. When 
he was displeased with the Minister's answer in a harmless argu- 
ment, Rhodes abruptly turned his back on him and ignored him 
the whole evening. 

It was very rude of me, I know/ he said, 'very rude. People 
who live in London can't do these things I can. I can do it on 
the basis of a barbarian!' 

In Parliament, however, and also in his other political activities, 

[216] 



ON THE PERSONAL 

Rhodes aimed at offending no one and pleasing everyone in the 
country. Neither by temperament nor by inclination was Rhodes 
a politician* Constitutional rights, parliamentary procedure, 
political traditions had no meaning for him. 

He had to learn the art of parliamentary horse-dealing and 
very soon did he master it so that he could say with genuine 
vexation of one of his opponents, a true Liberal: *He has a 
conscience but this is party politics!* 

In order to please Hofmeyr and his Bond, Rhodes, often to the 
pained disappointment of his Liberal friends and admirers, passed 
kws dealing with Natives that stamped him in the eyes of the 
papers in England as *an English-speaking Boer, thirsting for 
slavery'. This was the case particularly when he supported a Bill 
kter known as the "Strop Bill*, by which an employer was given 
the right to apply corporal punishment to his Native labourers 
of both sexes for even the slightest offence. Also the otherwise 
sound law which gave the Natives in their Reservations individual 
land-titles with the right of passing them on from father to eldest 
son, and which gave them local government and encouraged 
education, lost its Liberal flavour by being coupled with a tax 
levy often shillings on non-workers, as a 'gentle stimulus to come 
forth and find the dignity of labour*; and as such 'labour* the 
work on their own land did not count. 

The real idea behind this tax was revealed when Rhodes dis- 
closed the difficulties of finding sufficient cheap labour for the 
mines. He complained that Natives in South Africa were overpaid 
at 3 or 4 a month and food, while in the North the pay was 
4s. a month without food, and even in England, he emphasized, 
C I find labour at izs. a week, that is 2 los. a month, producing 
export/ 

Such methods of forcing the Natives into the mines provoked 
the eminent member of the Liberal Party in England, Sir William 
Harcourt, to ridicule Rhodes in the House with sarcastic acidity: 

'Mr Rhodes is a very reasonable man. He only wants two things. 
Give him Protection and give him Slavery and he will be perfectly 
satisfied/ 

His precarious position as Prime Minister soon became burden- 
some to Rhodes, who had never learnt the art of discretion. No 
one really trusted him with the exception of Hofmeyr. And 
lately there was another Afrikaner, a brilliant young lawyer, 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

W. P- Schreiner, thirty-six years old, who had joined Rhodes* 
Cabinet as Attorney-General* Always an admirer of Rhodes*, he 
became the second man to believe in Rhodes* political honesty 
without reservation. 

The only group of people really satisfied were the Cape farmers, 
most of them good Bondsmen. Rhodes had repeatedly emphasized 
in his speeches in rural districts that he came of good old farming 
stock and that the love of the soil ran in his veins* Immediately 
after the occupation of Mashonaland* he had given orders to 
reserve for him a great tract of land in the most fertile district 
where he wanted to start a model farm* Soon after taking office 
Rhodes had created a Ministry of Agriculture s having recognized 
that the future of the Cape would depend a great deal on modern- 
izing her backward farming industry. By importing the American 
ladybird, Rhodes saved the Cape's orange groves from destruction 
by insect pests; he protected the South African wool industry by 
introducing compulsory isolation of sheep affected by scab; from 
Turkey he brought some pure-bred Angora goats to be crossed 
with die poor Cape stock; and he procured Arab stallions to 
improve the indifferent local breed. By applying French viticul- 
tural methods to the Cape vines, and by having them grafted on 
to American varieties, he made them immune to the scourge of 
the phylloxera which had once brought ruin to the Cape's vine- 
yards already* He tried to have the prohibitive English wine- 
tariff lowered by a preference to colonial wines and thus to revive 
the Cape's old wine trade with the mother country. 

To the people of South Africa in general Rhodes remained a 
political enigma. They could not understand why their Prime 
Minister was still called *a Colonial Imperialist* by the, Afrikaners, 
and an 'English Boer Republican' by the English in the Cape; and 
a 'British Jingo* by the Transvaalers, while the English Press 
either still referred to him as c the eliminator of the Imperial 
Factor' or praised him as the 'Colossus of Africa' and the 'Empire 
builder*, if they were not attacking him as a 'humbug whose 
politics are a stalking-horse for his finance or his finance for his 
politics*. 

In his predicament Rhodes lamented in a speech: 

It has been borne upon my mind of late that the best thing for 
a Prime Minister to do is to make as few public speeches as possible 



ON THE PERSONAL 

and especially is this the case in South Africa, for in South Africa 
we have to deal with the feelings of the English people who have 
lent us all the money we have borrowed; we have to deal with the 
sentiment of the neighbouring Republics; we have to deal with the 
development of the Northern territory. ... I defy anyone to make 
a speech as Prime Minister of this Colony without hurting the 
feelings of someone . . \Tbe Times\ thinks that I am too Afrikaner 
. , . The Free State Express slates me in the most fearful language 
because I am too much an Englishman. * . . But I do feel that I am 
steering the right course between Jingoism on the one side and 
sensitive feeling on the other. . . . 

Yet Rhodes was not such a political tenderfoot as Ms friends 
as well as his foes imagined him, or perhaps rather wished him, 
to be. Intuition had led him to discover the basis of political 
success* which consists of the exploitation of the herd-instinct of 
the masses by means of appealing to 'sentiment'. Without realiz- 
ing, probably., that these words revealed the secret of his success 
and later of his downfall he once told a friend: 

Sentiments rule half the world and as an explanation of this truth 
we can take the saying: 'We went far to the North, ... we did it by 
the feeling of the people.* For after all, even if you have the wealth, 
it is impossible to carry out a conception unless you have the feeling 
of the people with you. ... If you have an idea and it is a good idea, 
if you will only stick to it, you will come out all right. 

'Sentiment* in the form of his old schoolboy-romanticism still 
kept the forty-year-old Rhodes as captivated as when it had first 
fired his imagination in his Oxford and early Kimberley days. In 
spite of his questionable stock-exchange manipulations, in spite 
of his many tricks when 'painting red, British red', the North, in 
spite of his various sharp practices and in spite of his methodical 
bribery, there still burnt in him, in that 'bundle of inconsistencies', 
the blazing fire of enthusiasm for his juvenile romantic idea of 
a secret society in preparation for the Pax T$ritannica. On his last 
visit to London he spent much time between his important busi- 
ness negotiations organizing the 'Society of the Elect*. The fact 
that he was able to infect with such fantastic madness a man like 
W. T. Stead can still be understood since the prominent publicist 
had found compensation for the dullness of journalistic routine 
work in the realms of mysticism, spiritualism and the collecting 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

of all sorts of lost souls. It is far less comprehensible that a cold- 
blooded business-man of the woridliness of Lord Rothschild 
should, instead of rebuffing it with laughter, accept it by agreeing 
to act as executor of Rhodes' will as the representative of Ms 
ideas. Rhodes accordingly made a new, his fourth, will, by which 
he left his whole fortune to Lord Rothschild to be 'utilised in 
accordance with Stead's views for the Society of the Elect'. It 
was to be carried out by a 'Junta of Three' consisting of Stead 
as 'General', Lord Rothschild and Lord Milner, with Arthur 
Balfour and the Salvation Army General Booth as alternatives. 

His present mood, at the time of his fortieth birthday, was 
hardly one of romanticism. He was waiting for the cue to enter 
upon the next act of his conquest of southern Africa. He had to 
exercise strict self-control in order not to show his hand and 
allow his opponents to call his bluff. Only a great bluff could save 
Ms plans. Watching Rhodes, it was easy to notice Ms poorly 
concealed anxiety. His nervousness spread throughout the 
country. People were expecting something to happen though 
they did not know what or where. His aim of attaining supreme 
power over the whole of South Africa in order to make the Cape 
the dominant factor of a future South African federation, naturally 
under Ms control, was no longer a secret. There were still two 
stumbling-blocks wMch would have to be removed before he 
could accomplish Ms final aim: the two men, Lobengula and 
TCroiger' Rhodes never learnt to pronounce President Kruger's 
name correctly would have to be eliminated from the scene 
before South Africa could come under Rhodes' complete control. 
The two men had shown themselves immune to all Ms methods 
of bribery, flattery and bluff. Only by force of arms could they be 
removed. "South Africa's atmosphere was charged with the fear 
of war. 

As the curve of war-fever climbed Mgher, so Rhodes appeared 
to become calmer. It was true that Mashonaknd had been a great 
disappointment to Mm. But he could not very well blurt out that 
he considered that country only a, stepping-stone, a small part of 
his scheme wMch took in the whole of the African continent. 

He had to undergo the strenuous journey to Mashonaland via 
Beira to see for Mmself how the Chartered Company could be 
saved from threatened bankruptcy. Part of the way he had to 
travel in a dilapidated coastal steamer, where he was bunched 

[**>] 



ON THE PERSONAL 

together with his companions in a small stuffy cabin. Rhodes was 
lying in his bunk peacefully when the others started an uproar, 
having found beetles, cockroaches and all kinds of smaller insects 
crawling around them. How could Mr Rhodes remain so un- 
concerned? 

'Well/ he answered, C I cannot say I like them, but as I have 
had many a worse time than this in my life, I don't worry myself 
much about such minor discomforts. . . . Oh, my good friends, 
take the world as it is; how silly to be afraid of such harmless little 
things! Why, I treat them like flies. . . . One has to keep a sense 
of proportion/ 

*To keep a sense of proportion' became Rhodes* motto during 
his stay in Mashonaland and was freely recommended by him to 
the many dissatisfied and almost riotous settlers who showered 
their bitter complaints upon him. Exceptionally long and heavy 
rains had caused a complete breakdown in the transport system, 
as the wagons which had to bring provisions over a stretch of 
1,700 miles could not pass through the floods and mud. In 
consequence prices had soared enormously. 

All along his way settlers told him of their dissatisfaction with 
their farms. Once Rhodes shrieked at them: 

'Well, aren't you satisfied with me? Haven't I done enough for 
you? Do you blame me for opening this big new country?' 
Without giving them another glance, he swung himself into the 
saddle and galloped off. 

Rhodes found *a discontented population of about 1,500 
people'. Those who had taken up the free farms of 3,000 acres 
allotted to each pioneer quickly sold them to land specuktors for 
a song, often for not more than 100. In all of them there lived 
only the one thought gold. True enough, there were auriferous 
rocks, but how could they ever hope to tackle this quartz reef 
with only pestle and mortar? 

Those who did not go home stood by helplessly while their 
former farms were taken up by speculators and leased at 6d. or 
8^. an acre, and all the land where they had discovered auriferous 
rocks parsed into the hands of stock companies whose shares 
were torn out of the speculators' hands at high premiums on the 
London stock market. 

As it was, gold was found in very small quantities. The 
directors of the Chartered Company in London bombarded 

[221] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Rhodes with frantic cables asking him to let them know whether 
the gold-reef had yet been found. Neither Rhodes' optimism nor 
even the various Biblical references to the Queen of Sheba's 
gold-treasures often quoted by Rhodes offered a consolation to 
Ms London friends. 

The London Board of the Chartered Company, wishing for an 
unbiased report on the real gold-prospects in Mashonaland, 
together with Rothschild, sent out two of the best-known 
geologists. The experts deckred that they could find no signs of 
the presence of a real continuous gold-reef, and that the existing 
gold in Mashonaland occurred only to a relatively limited extent 
and principally in the form of a few rich pockets in the best mines, 
which would soon be exhausted. Only poor gold findings, they 
warned, could be expected, which did not warrant the investment 
of capital and still less the formation of stock companies. 

To many it came as a bitter awakening from 'the dream of a 
lunatic'. Only Rhodes and, infected by his indefatigable optimism, 
Beit and Jameson, did not abandon faith in the gold and the 
future of Mashonaland. Before he had finished reading the report 
Rhodes crushed the copy in bis hand, saying: 'Rubbish! They 
also told me I couldn't grow cotton in Natall And who was right 
in the end, I ask you, about the blue ground in Kimberley? Me 
or the experts? Rubbish!' 

Before Rhodes went to Mashonaland in 1891 he knew that the 
Chartered Company was bankrupt. The banks no longer accepted 
its cheques unless they were guaranteed by De Beers or by 
Rhodes personally. Lately the shareholders of De Beers had been 
remonstrating against Rhodes' high-handed manipulations with 
their company's funds for the benefit of the Chartered Company. 
The shareholders took exception to the fact that he and the other 
directors had formed a syndicate monopolizing the sale of the 
Company's diamonds. When they complained, too, that the 
Company spent money 'acquiring farms and breeding horses 
Rhodes replied: 

*. . . We had a considerable quantity of diamonds on hand, and 
for amusement I put an advance of one shilling per carat on the 
price of diamonds ... so that I may say the horses on our farms 
were really bought for the Company by the diamond buyers of 
Kimberley.' 

They also objected to the Company's practice of making a 

[Z2Z] 



ON THE PERSONAL 

profit on their monopolized canteens and shops which supplied 
the Natives in the De Beers* compounds. A resolution was passed 
that this money, gained by the Company in the rather unsavoury 
way of overcharging their poor Natives for their miserable needs, 
should be 'devoted to useful public purposes as [Rhodes] in his 
discretion may determine'. Instead of using it for the benefit of 
these Natives, the fund, amounting to more than 25,000, was 
spent on such 'useful public purposes* as a deficit on an exhibition 
in Kimberley (2,203), a local race-club (1,200), a luxurious 
sanatorium for De Beers* white employees (17,000), two volun- 
teer regiments (2,000) and a few hundred pounds on schools for 
white children. 

In his Goldfields Company Rhodes* wings had also been 
clipped after Lord Rothschild had vehemently put a stop to the 
practice of his 'puzzling ally' of using the Company's funds for 
his northern dreams. 

The full coffers of his two wealthy companies had thus passed 
out of Rhodes' grasp. No fresh money was coming in. The greater 
part of the capital of the Company in Mashonaland had been spent 
on equipping and feeding a police force of 600-800 men. Under 
the new administrator, Dr Jameson's rule, these expenses were 
reduced from 250,000 to 30,000 a year, by means of substitut- 
ing a volunteer corps of settlers for the police force. Dr Jameson, 
like Rhodes, believed in Mashonaland, but knew that 'without a 
railway the Chartered Company might as well shut up shop'. 
Such a railway would have to connect Mashonaland with the port 
of Beira, only 4oo-odd miles from Salisbury. But how could they 
build a railway when money was not available? As the situation 
grew more precarious, so Rhodes grew up to it. If the Chartered 
Company needed money, one would have to get the money, he 
said, and all the amounts due to him from De Beers and Goldfields 
went straight into Chartered's account. He also borrowed on the 
security of his considerable shareholdings in his companies. 

Rhodes now proceeded to round up his possessions. The gold 
of Gazaland was his next aim. The fact that this country belonged 
to the Portuguese did not deter him nor did he feel that the 
Anglo-Portuguese Agreement of the previous year for a modus 
vivendi on the status quo put Mm under the slightest obligation. 
Rhodes would not allow himself to be dictated to by an agree- 
ment which had been concluded behind his back. He would leave 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

the matter in the hands of Dr Jameson. It was quite ridiculous to 
allow a degenerate people like the Portuguese to possess any 
colonies at all. 

Dr Jameson acquired a concession to mineral rights in the 
usual form from the Paramount Chief of Gazaland against a paltry 
amount and the promise of guns. The only difficulty in having 
the Gaza concession ratified lay in finding a way to bring the guns 
to the Chief without being stopped by the watchful Portuguese. 
A gun-moling expedition by steamer up the Limpopo River was 
arranged. The Portuguese stopped the expedition and fined the 
captain 2,000, but a Portuguese officer, his palms well greased, 
contented himself with a promissory note and even released the 
cargo of guns as being "outdated and useless'. With the guns 
delivered, Dr Jameson received the confirmation of the conces- 
sion. On his way back to Beira he was arrested and the steamer 
seised, but he was able to dispatch the precious document secretly 
by one of his companions. Dr Jameson was set free on his arrival 
at Beira., and thus ended his second successful raid on foreign 
territory. 

A title without taking possession was not sufficient for Rhodes. 
He had to occupy Gazaland, and Gazaland was not all on which 
he had cast his eyes. Mashonaland had to have an outlet to the sea, 
as otherwise it would suffocate as a locked~in impotent inland 
island like the Transvaal. Beira was destined as the natural port 
of Mashonaland and the way to Beira lay through Manica and 
Gazaland, along, and during the floods on, the Pungwe River. 

For many years, as often as he leant over his crumpled map of 
Africa, Rhodes' finger had come to rest on Beira, the coveted 
port on the Portuguese east coast. 

In 1891 the Portuguese finances had sunk once more to a 
catastrophic level. Rhodes saw his chance to bargain for Beira. 
Together with the Rothschilds he offered to buy the port. The 
Portuguese Cabinet looked upon his offer favourably, but the 
promising negotiations had to cease when Downing Street 
intervened. 

Later Rhodes again took up parleys and was very near success 
in obtaining Beira at the bargain price of 1,300,000, when J. B. 
Robinson, the 'Buccaneer*, appeared on the scene and outbid 
Rhodes by a substantial amount. A new Cabinet came to power 
in Portugal and withdrew the offer. 

["4] 



ON THE PERSONAL 

If he could not pocket Beita by fair means, other ways would be 
sure to present themselves. The new Portuguese Government 
played into his hands by closing the Pungwe River and the port 
of Beira to men and goods connected with Rhodes' companies 
and by declaring martial law in all the districts of Manica. At the 
same time a volunteer corps arrived from Lisbon determined to 
restore the honour of their country by clearing Manica of Rhodes* 
police force. 

If those dwarfs of Lisbon politicians wanted to fight him, 
Cecil Rhodes would teach them a lesson. An excuse for war could 
easily be found in this electrified atmosphere, and it would be war 
not against his Mashonaland Police but against the British Empire. 

On his old map of Africa, Rhodes pointed out to his friends the 
immense vastnesses of space 'given over to savage life, with its 
waste of nature and contempt of human life*. Silently, he paced 
up and down the room until he came to a halt again in front of 
the map, and whispered excitedly: 

'It is inevitable fate that all this should be changed; and I should 
like to be the agent of fate." 

Unafraid of the probable consequences, Rhodes, as the un- 
authorized 'agent of fate*, hatched the dangerous plan of creating 
an 'incident' which would lead the British fleet to occupy Beira. 
Unfortunately Dr Jameson, already considered a specialist in 
such tasks, was not available. Rhodes' choice fell on Sir John 
Willoughby, one of the many titled hangers-on of the Chartered 
Company in Salisbury. This young ex-officer had all the qualities 
that were needed to have him turned overnight into a national 
hero by the English Press should something happen to him during 
the 'incident'. Willoughby sported the Eton tie, had gained his 
blue at Cambridge, had brought home a large collection of war 
decorations from the Egyptian Expedition and had once won the 
Derby. Possessing, moreover, the right amount of stupidity 
mixed with irritating arrogance which he dispensed freely among 
all outside his own coterie but showered especially upon everyone 
and everything 'foreign*, he would not 'stand any nonsense' from 
any swarthy Portuguese. 

Friends pointed out to Rhodes that the life of this blue-blooded 
flower of English nobility might be endangered that he might 
easily be killed by a Portuguese bullet. Rhodes immediately 
replied: 

[225] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

*Not a bit not a bit! They will only hit him in the leg hit 
him in the leg in the leg. 5 And, while vigorously rubbing his 
thighs, his screeching laughter echoed through the sudden deathly 
silence of the room. 

They did not even hit Willoughby in the leg when he entered 
Beira harbour. All that the Portuguese did when he tried to enter 
the Pungwe River against their orders was to fire a blank shot 
over the bow of his 'flagship'. After protesting vehemently against 
this insult to the British flag, Sir John considered his mission 
fulfilled and quitted the scene, leaving to Rhodes the political 
exploitation of the Incident' 

Misled by Rhodes* exaggerated reports, the English Press 
immediately turned the incident into the ( Beira Outrage'. Even 
Sir Henry Loch, who was not easily influenced by Rhodes, 
succumbed to the artificially aroused mass-hysteria and shared 
Rhodes* opinion that Portugal's affront constituted a casus belli. 
Lord Salisbury was surprised when he received from Loch, whom 
he considered a calm and reliable man, a cable strongly urging 
him c to take action with the fleet*. 

Through direct negotiations Lord Salisbury soon came to 
terms with the Portuguese Government, which immediately 
lifted the closure of Beira and the Pungwe River. To lay stress 
on the importance of the reopening of the port of Beira and of 
the free passage from there to Mashonaland, Salisbury dispatched 
a British cruiser and two gun-boats to Beira. The Portuguese 
Government had yielded on the question of Beira only on condi- 
tion that Rhodes* police-troops were withdrawn from the territory 
of Manica which they had occupied without justification. The 
officer in command of the Chartered Company Police ordered his 
men to retreat, but only to occupy a strategically better position 
on the Manica hills. 

Rhodes, fearing that a treaty would once more be signed 
without his being consulted and that again valuable concessions 
would be made by the British Government, cabled to Beit in 
London to safeguard the interests of the Chartered Company by 
presenting their claims to Lord Salisbury. He concluded his 
instructions: 

... I well know the predatory instincts of my countrymen. When 
they can't rob the foreigner, they rob one another; but I am damned 
if they're going to rob me! 

[2*6] 



ON THE PERSONAL 

Rhodes' Interests were Indeed well looked after when the 
Anglo-Portuguese Treaty was signed in June 1891: the High- 
lands, as well as the entire auriferous plateau of Manica and a 
narrow strip of Gazaland, were accorded to Rhodes. Concerning 
the question of Gazaland, however, neither Whitehall nor Lisbon 
was prepared to yield to Rhodes' demand of recognizing his 
concession for the whole territory. But Rhodes received full 
rights to use the port of Beira and the Pungwe River and was 
given a concession to build a railway from Beira to Mashonaland. 

While Rhodes was busy brow-beating the Portuguese in the 
east, difficulties were arising on the southern border of Mashona- 
land, where an organized trek of Afrikaner burghers was threaten- 
ing an invasion. They intended to found the 'Republic of the 
North' in the Banya district of Mashonaland to which they 
pretended to have acquired the rights from the local chiefs. The 
promoters of the scheme had previously offered this concession 
to Rhodes at an enormous figure, but he had pointed out to them 
that the territory fell under Lobengula*s paramount power and 
thus under the Rudd concession. 

The trek was favoured by General Joubert, the Commandant- 
General of the Transvaal and President Kruger's opponent in the 
approaching presidential elections of 1892. President Krager, 
who opposed it because he knew it would affect Ms negotiations 
with London for Swaziland, issued a proclamation forbidding the 
trek, but Rhodes was still convinced that Kruger favoured and 
was secretly aiding it. The Colonial Office, too, feared a repetition 
of the Bechuanaland troubles. Consequently the British Govern- 
ment deckred that Matabdeland and Mashonaland feU under the 
British sphere of influence and ordered the Bechuanaland Police 
to take up positions at the principal drifts on the Limpopo River. 
These Imperial troops, together with the Chartered Police, would, 
the* High Commissioner warned the trekkers, prevent by force of 
arms any unauthorized crossing of the Limpopo. 

These official precautions seemed to Rhodes insufficient to 
prevent Kruger from sponsoring the trek. He would send 
Dr Jameson and Sir John Willoughby to Pretoria and let the 
'Old Dopper* know the exact meaning of Loch's shilly-shally 
proclamation. 

During these last years Rhodes had learnt how to use to good 
advantage that loathsome poEtical instrument blackmail by the 

t"7] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

threat of war. If, contrary to expectations, it should not have the 
desired effect when applied to Kruger, one would have to create 
an 'incident* similar to the 'Beira Outrage*, and would eventually 
have to go to war. Rhodes no longer doubted that war against 
the Transvaal would be the ultimate solution. 

Bearing Rhodes' views in mind, the two raid specialists came 
to Pretoria. Willoughby first went alone to see the President and 
deliver Rhodes' message. Just as intended by his master, the 
arrogant haughtiness of the ex-guardsman had the most irritating 
effect on the President. Willoughby asked the President whether 
he realked that if the Boers attempted to cross the Limpopo into 
Mashonaland, he would have to reckon with the British Army. 

Kruger, with his small inflamed eyes, looked at this young 
man whom the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony had chosen 
to send to threaten him, the aged President of a friendly neigh- 
bour-state, with war war by the Queen of Great Britain, the 
suzerain power of his cowtryl Kruger stood up. Looking the 
young officer straight in the eye, he said very slowly: *I think we 
have reckoned with the British Army before!" With these words 
he left the room, his head held high. Willoughby remained in his 
seat for quite a while with open mouth. In his stupidity he could 
not explain this 'extraordinary behaviour'. 

Yet Kruger felt that as a message from the Prime Minister of 
the Cape this threat would have to be taken seriously. He sent for 
the British Agent, Sir Jacobus de Wet, for an explanation, who 
immediately communicated with the High Commissioner. To 
everyone's relief there soon came a wire from Sir Henry Loch: 
'Disown Willoughby and say Her Majesty's Government disown 
him altogether/ 

The more intelligent Dr Jameson instantly realised that a 
blunder had been .committed. He tried to repair it by visiting the 
President and applying all his charm to the old man. He scored 
a great success at least with another man, one of Rhodes' greatest 
antagonists and one of Britain's bitterest and most irreconcilable 
foes in South Africa: the Reverend S. J, Du Toit, who suddenly 
discovered his love for Britain and joined Rhodes* forces by 
declaring himself whole-heartedly against the trek. * Squared?* 
'On the personal?* 

The trekkers who were sitting on the Transvaal bank of the 
Limpopo waiting for the signal from their leader to cross the 



ON THE PERSONAL 

river into Mashonaland were beginning to be bored. They had 
full confidence in their leader, a man well known throughout 
South Africa: whenever there was a rumour of gold or diamond 
findings, Colonel Ignatius Ferreira would appear among the first 
to dig; whenever there was a war against the Natives, Ferreira 
would be the first to volunteer, no matter whether it was under 
the flag of Britain, the Transvaal or Portugal, and fight in the 
front line with such foolhardiness that his name alone was 
sufficient to frighten many a Native chief. 

Mashonaland must have been a dreamland for a man of his 
speculative optimism and he had thus taken over the leadership 
of the trek with enthusiasm. But to sit there for weeks doing 
nothing was more than his mercurial temperament could endure. 
Finally, to put an end to what was already becoming a comedy, 
Ferreira and a few others made a pretence of attempting to cross 
the river. They were promptly arrested by the Chartered Police. 
Dr Jameson, who had been waiting impatiently for this moment, 
tried to persuade the rest of the Boers to enter Mashonaland as 
registered settlers under the Company's rule. Only a very few 
accepted the offer. 

Rhodes* next task, and the most difficult, so everyone in 
Rhodes* circle believed, still awaited him when he would have 
to face the shareholders of the Chartered Company at its second 
annual meeting scheduled in London for November 1892. 

The capital of the Company had been spent. So far gold to no 
appreciable extent had been found. The shares of the Company, 
which soon after having been issued had climbed to 3 15^. and 
had been unloaded at that price on an unsuspecting public, were 
now unsaleable at a quotation of TOS. to izs. Rhodes knew that 
it would be hard work not only to keep up the confidence of his 
shareholders but to instil in them fresh enthusiasm to such an 
extent that they would willingly grant him new and larger 
funds. 

The Spectator, referring to Rhodes* light-hearted optimism in 
promising two years previously that 'Mashonaland consists not 
of one but of fifty Rands', hauled him over the coals: 

We are not inclined to take Mr Cecil Rhodes so entirely on trust 
as a great many people in this country show a disposition to do. . . . 
We should like to know much more exactly than any one seems to 
do, whether Rhodes is fighting for England or for his own hand, . . . 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Rhodes had prepared his speech to the shareholders with pains- 
taking care, employing all his well-worn and ever-successful 
bravura arias: the story of meeting General Gordon and how he 
would have *squared the MahdF, that he was proud to be called 
an adventurer and, to wind up, bis old refrain of how he had 
always %ied to combine the commercial with the imaginative, 
and up to the present never failed*. He appealed to the patriotism 
of his listeners when he asked them to oppose the 'scuttling out 
of colonial possessions: . . . I do not mean this on the basis of 
"Jingoism", or on the basis of the Empire on which the sun never 
sets, but on the basis of pure practical business. 5 He aimed at the 
proverbial sentimentality of the Englishwomen in his audience 
who could always be brought to the melting-point if called upon 
to fight the slave-trade: 

There are 14,000 shareholders in the various companies I represent, 
and if they like to send me, not a charitable contribution, but 10 
each, there would be my line to Uganda. . . . There may be in various 
towns in Engknd people who take an interest in Africa and in the 
suppression of the skve trade. If this telegraph is made, there will 
be an end to the skve trade and it will give us the keys to the 
continent, . * . 

All now depended on regaining the confidence of his share- 
holders and re-establishing the trust of the stock exchange in his 
enterprises. What better recommendation could he furnish than 
the faith of such cautious bankers as Messrs Rothschild? Proudly 
he announced: 

Lord Rothschild, who I think, did not believe in the least degree 
in the Charter, but thought he was chucking his money into the sea, 
gave me 25,000. 

The negative results of the two years' work in Mashonaland 
Rhodes went over lightly: 'My experience of the past is that, just 
as a Government, so as a Company we cannot expect to do more 
than balance revenue and expenditure. . . / And he kept up their 
hopes for the great mineral wealth still to be discovered. 

How could one possibly deny anything to so charming a man, 
so great a patriot and one so clever in financial matters? Rhodes 
received fresh confidence in, and new capital for, his company in 
full measure. And that was all he had wanted. 

In his address Rhodes had made a deep bow to the new Liberal 
Cabinet, which had taken over the government in the summer of 



ON THE PERSONAL 

1892. Rhodes recommended himself to the new masters in 
Whitehall by declaring: 

*I am a Liberal myself 1* 

The extent of his Liberalism, so far, had been expressed merely 
by a contribution of 5,000 to the funds of that party. 

Rhodes needed the goodwill of the ruling Liberals for Ms 
pending ventures. He had to have Uganda and he thanked heaven 
that only Gladstone and a few other Liberals now held to their 
anti-colonial policy, 

In Lord Rothschild's son-in-law, Lord Rosebery, now Secretary 
of Foreign Affairs in Gladstone's Cabinet, Rhodes found an 
interested and enthusiastic backer of his scheme to save Uganda, 
which Rhodes described as 'the key to Central Africa*. The 
company which had a Charter for Uganda was asking for an 
annual subsidy of 40,000, whereas Rhodes offered to run it at 
25,000 and to build a telegraphic line from Salisbury to Uganda 
without cost to the Government. 

Sir William Harcourt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 
Gladstone's Cabinet, was, as a strong 'Little Englander*, categori- 
cally opposed to colonial obligations. He would first have to be 
won over. 

Harcourt was at first horrified by the Uganda scheme and even 
more shocked when Rhodes proposed that as a part of this plan 
the Cape should take over the administration of Bechuanaland 
and run it at 40,000, whereas now it was costing the British 
Government 100,000. Rhodes also mentioned, to Harcourt's 
consternation, that 'in a few years the Transvaal will be so flooded 
with English at the mines that there will be a majority there for 
annexation to the Cape Colony*. Yet, in spite of his distrust of 
Rhodes, Harcourt could not help being 'delighted with him*, 
liking his 'hard sense and knowledge of affairs* and even agreeing 
with him that * Jingoism is tolerable when it is done <c on the cheap* * *. 

But on consideration Harcourt quickly changed his mind. He 
wrote a note to his Cabinet colleague Lord Ripon, the new 
Colonial Secretary, in which he opposed the amalgamation of 
Bechuanaland with the Cape: 

Of course, Henry Loch does not like to part with his own little 
despotism, and desires to keep his own niggers for himself, but this 
ought only to influence us. ... In dealing with these Cape eels it is 
necessary to have sand on one's hands. 

[2 3I ] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

However, when Rosebery threatened to resign if Uganda were 
* scuttled' , Rhodes was given the sanction of the Cabinet to add it 
to his private empire which now stretched from the Limpopo 
across the Equator to the borders of the Sudan. 

The new acquisition brought Rhodes* dreams still nearer to 
their complete realization. He would have rejoiced more about 
this latest victory had there not remained on the map of Africa 
the blot of the Transvaal. It was so near and yet so far an,d as 
time went on it seemed to recede still farther from his grasp, 

Rhodes had nursed great hopes that the Presidential elections 
of 1892 would lead to civil war between Paul Kruger's followers 
and those of General Piet Joubert. *Oom Paul' still held the 
confidence of the older generation, the conservative backvelders, 
but in the towns there had arisen a generation who were now 
clamouring for a change. It was a very close contest. The votes 
had to be counted three times, and each time they led to a different 
jcesult until finally Kruger was declared elected with 7,854 votes 
against Joubert's 7,009. 

Rhodes knew that the time to deal with Kruger had not yet 
arrived, and he felt his impotence painfully. One day, however, 
he would settle accounts with that old man 'Kroiger'l 

Rhodes' mind was already occupied with plans for his next 
step: Lobengula would have to be eliminated so that the Chartered 
Company could take possession of Matabeleland and, of course, 
of the fat king's fabulous treasure chest of diamonds, his gold and 
ivory and his enormous stock of cattle. Rumours that his wealth, 
stored in old biscuit tins, now amounted to well ovet 10 million, 
had lately received confirmation from several sources. With 
Dr Jim, the experienced raider, sitting in Salisbury as adminis- 
trator, it would not be difficult to arrange the necessary 'incident' 
to start the ball rolling. Moffat, now Her Majesty's Resident at 
Bulawayo, and still a willing instrument of Rhodes' who 
officially paid his salary was given the onerous duty of inform- 
ing Lobengula of the transfer of the Lippert concession to the 
Chartered Company. The King understood the meaning of this 
message only too well, but he was determined to oppose the sale 
of this concession which had been a personal grant and could not, 
according to Native law, be passed on. 

He also maintained that in spite of the Rudd concession he was 
still master over Mashonaland. All that he had ceded was the 



ON THE PERSONAL 

tight to dig" for gold. He therefore saw no hindrance to sending 
his irnpi into Mashonaland to *bathe their spears in blood*, to 
collect taxes or to go on punitive expeditions. There was, in fact, 
no boundary to show where Matabeleland ended and Mashona- 
land began. 

An opportunity arose in June 1893 when Lobengula wanted 
to punish a petty Mashonaland chief living on the border, whose 
men had cut some 500 yards of telegraph wire and who had paid 
the fine imposed on him by the Company in cattle which belonged 
to Lobengula. In a letter addressed to the Company's officer-in- 
charge at Victoria, dated 29 June, Lobengula informed him of 
the coming punitive expedition against these cattle-thieves and 
pointed out that 'the impi in its progress will probably come across 
some white men, who are asked to understand that it has nothing 
to do with them'. Lobengula acted fully within his rights and 
even did more than was his duty by this warning. 

To Dr Jameson this seemed a splendid opportunity for 
engineering the required 'incident'. He wired for Rhodes' consent. 
Rhodes, reading the telegram while sitting at his desk in Parlia- 
ment, sent a messenger for a Bible. He smiled as he thumbed 
through the pages of the New Testament; and on a telegram form 
addressed to Dr Jameson, scribbled: 

Read Luke XIV, 31.1 

From Dr Jameson came the prompt reply: 'All right: have read 
Luke XIV, 31.' And he immediately went to work. He found the 
man for the job in one Captain Lendy, who by rights should no 
longer have been in the employ of the Chartered Company at all. 
Shortly before, he had been seriously reprimanded by the Colonial 
Office and was supposed to have been cashiered, for the barbarous 
torture under which he had put to death a Mashona headman for 
alleged theft. 

When chasing the Mashona cattle-thieves, Lobengula' s impi, 
which consisted of 300 men, reached the outskirts of Victoria, 
and, while looking for Mashona fugitives, they might possibly 
have entered the property of some settlers. The settlers thereupon, 
as Dr Jameson reported, had 'the jumps', sending away their 

1 *Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, 
and consultcth whether he he able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh 
against him with twenty thousand?* 



HHOBES OF AFRICA 

wives and children and barricading their houses. Not a single 
white person, however, was as much as touched by a Matabele. 

Captain Lendy was told that if the impi did not leave Mashona- 
land within an hour, he should follow them with thirty-eight 
troopers. If he found that they were not moving off and if they 
resisted and attacked him, he should open fire. According to the 
testimony of Captain Newton, who as an old friend of Rhodes 1 
must be considered, if not biased towards Rhodes, at least a 
neutral witness, there was "nothing to show that any organised 
or individual resistance was offered'. This fact did not prevent 
a man of Captain Lendy's type from shooting about thirty 
Matabele 

In his report to the High Commissioner, Dr Jameson and 
Selous twisted the truth in maintaining that the Matabele impi 
had attacked Lendy' s troops after having killed more than 400 
Mashona, and emphasized that the lives of the white women and 
children had been jeopardized at Victoria. Not more than half 
a. dozen Mashonas had in fact been the victims of the Matabele 
raid. 

The High Commissioner censured Lendy, but only said 'that 
the punishment inflicted , . . appears disproportionate to the 
original offence' upon which the Colonial Secretary, Lord Ripon, 
observed that "the full report by Captain Lendy . . . would have 
justified much stronger terms of remonstrance* and that he could 
not avoid the conclusion that 'Captain Lendy acted with reckless- 
ness and undue harshness', 

Dr Jameson did not care. He had succeeded in engineering an 
'incident'. In order to remove any obstacles which Sir Henry Loch 
or the Colonial Office might put in his or Rhodes' way, voxpopuli 
would have to be raised to such a pitch that it would sound as 
though the settlers of Mashonaland were fearing for their very 
lives. 

Nothing was easier than filling the people with the necessary 
war-spirit, and promptly at a mass-meeting in Salisbury a 
.resolution demanding immediate strong action was passed and 
telegraphed to Government House in Cape Town. 

In spite of this provocation Lobengula did not lose his head 
and exercised restraint in every respect. He defended his rights 
against the Company which seemed to have come *not only to 
dig the gold but to rob me of my people and country as well'. 



ON THE PERSONAL 

He appealed to the High Commissioner through Moffat, saying 
that he was 'not aware that a boundary exists between Dr Jameson 
and myself; who gave him the boundary lines? Let him come 
forward and show me the man that pointed out to Mm these 
boundaries/ The High Commissioner replied to Lobengula that 
it was also his desire that 'peace should be maintained*. In spite 
of these reassuring words Lobengula saw that the preparations 
for war in Salisbury were being intensified. As a last hope he 
wrote another pathetic letter to the Great White Queen, pleading 
for justice, with this touching outburst from a wounded heart: 
c Your Majesty, what I want to know from you is: Why do your 
people kill me?* 

The Queen replied through the High Commissioner: "You can 
tell the King from me I have no intention of invading his country 
or of dragging him into war/ 

When Rhodes' next monthly concession payment was tendered 
to Lobengula, the King refused acceptance because, as he told the 
messenger, it signified 'the price of his blood*. To show his 
peaceful intentions, and to rid himself of his obligations towards 
the Company, Lobenguk returned the 1,500 rifles and the ammu- 
nition which he had received in part-payment of the Rudd 
concession. 

In spite of these distinct signs of Lobengula's sincerity and the 
assurances of reliable traders and missionaries about his peaceful 
intentions, and in spite of repeated warnings from the High Com- 
missioner not to provoke the King, Dr Jameson continued to 
prepare for the lethal stroke against 'that fat naked savage'. 

Nothing could speak more against Rhodes* sincerity, nothing 
could better demonstrate his hypocrisy, than the cynical methods 
he employed in attracting volunteers for the intended campaign 
in Matabeleland. On 14 August 1893 Dr Jameson enlisted, by 
secret agreement, 672 men whom he promised by contract, in the 
name of the Company, each 6,000 acres of land of a minimum 
value of 9,000 to be chosen by them, and zo gold claims in 
Matabeleland, Paragraph 7 of this shameless agreement referred 
bluntly to what is considered in every even half-civilized country 
as one of the greatest crimes in warfare: 

The loot shall be divided half to the British South Africa Company 
and the remainder to officers and men in equal shares, 

[*35] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

It must here be stated clearly that the British authorities in 
Cape Town and in London knew nothing about this secret 
agreement and it remained unknown to them until 1913. 

The expectation of loot from Lobengula's treasure cave of 
diamonds, gold and ivory and his herd of 500,000 head of cattle 
drove the men to such a frenzy of war-lust that they could 
scarcely be kept in check. Colonel H. Gooid-Adams, the Com- 
mander of the Bechuanaland Police, reported to the High 
Commissioner on 1 8 September: *Dr Jameson will not be able to 
keep the Salisbury and Victoria people much longer inactive/ 

The High Commissioner, urged on by Whitehall, made every 
effort to frustrate Rhodes' attempt at invading Matabeleland and 
annihilating Lobengula. At the beginning of September he sent 
a message to Lobengula: 'Let there be peace between you and the 
white men! . . .' He encouraged the king to send his indunas to 
Cape Town, promising a safe conduct for them and that he would 
be 'glad to receive them if they come from you with words of 
friendship and of peace 9 . 

At the end of September, Dr Jameson reported to the High 
Commissioner that a Matabele iff/pi had fired on a police patrol. 
Though he had only Dr Jameson's word to rely on, Loch, who 
seemed not as yet to have been aware of the doctor's unbridled 
inventiveness, believed that a case of aggression by the Matabele 
had actually occurred. Perhaps he had begun to doubt Lobengula's 
sincerity, since his indunas who should have arrived weeks before 
had not even been reported to have crossed the border. 

Poor honest Loch! How could he have known by what low 
means his highest assistants were working against him, against 
the Government and against their country, but to the advantage 
of their friend Cecil Rhodes? Three indunas had indeed arrived on 
the border. It was known that the aim of their mission to the 
High Commissioner was to prevent Rhodes' invasion of Matabele- 
land. Rhodes' interests therefore made it imperative that the 
indunas should proceed no farther. As soon as they crossed the 
border they were arrested *by mistake' and two of them shot 
*while attempting to escape', while the third was never seen or 
heard of again. 

On 3 October Loch, under pressure from Dr Jameson, gave 
Mm 'discretionary powers to take the necessary measures to clear 
the border of Matabele impis** On October 7 the troops of the 



ON THE PERSONAL 

Chartered Company, well supplied with Maxim machine-guns 
and field artillery, left their camps in three columns consisting 
altogether of 897 white men and 555 Natives, and with Dr 
Jameson as Commander-in-Chief. 

Two columns marched off in the direction of Bulawayo, while 
the third column went to join Goold- Adams' Bechuanaland 
Police to cover the left flank of the main body and thus create 
a diversion of Lobenguia's forces. 

When Dr Jameson and his expedition were already several 
days on the march, there suddenly appeared in Salisbury Cecil 
Rhodes escorted by twenty Cape Police. It was a very tired, a very 
sick-looking and a very subdued Rhodes who greeted the settlers* 
Dr Jameson had followed his orders well in improvising and 
keeping down the costs. Rhodes had had to scrape together every 
penny, to pledge everything he possessed and to borrow from all 
sides in order to provide money for this war. 

During all this time Rhodes had prudently kept in the back- 
ground. As Prime Minister of the Cape he had to avoid falling 
foul of Loch and the Colonial Office. He therefore left all the 
negotiations in Dr Jameson's hands, though he directed him 
secretly. If anything went wrong he could then always disown 
the doctor. When the critical moment arrived at the end of 
September, Rhodes went off to Mashonaland via Beira, but he 
stopped near Umtali, a little border-station, where he camped for 
many days without entering the town and avoiding contact with 
its inhabitants. Rhodes, in other words, had gone into hiding. 
One day a mounted Company policeman arrived at Rhodes' camp, 
and from his and his horse's exhausted condition it could be 
guessed how urgent was the letter which he handed to Rhodes. 
Rhodes' mood immediately changed, though only for the moment, 
from nervous anxiety to one of gaiety: Dr Jameson was reporting 
that he and his two columns had now passed Fort Charter. For 
this news Rhodes had been waiting all these long and dreary days in 
his hide-out. Now Dr Jameson could no longer be reached by tele- 
graph and stopped in his march. To his friend Hans Sauer, Rhodes 
said, amid several outbursts of the usual piercing high laughter: 

'I had to hide in the bush and to make it impossible to receive 
orders by cable from Whitehall prohibiting us from invading 
Matabeleland, but now that Dr Jim has disappeared into the blue 
nobody can deter us any longer from this adventure.' 

[37] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

However, although Whitehall had not succeeded in stopping 
Rhodes' march into Matabeleland, they did at least want to keep 
a control over the consequences, and therefore informed Rhodes 
that all future negotiations about peace terms with Lobengula 
would have to be conducted by, and under the complete control 
of, the High Commissioner. 

Rhodes foamed with fury. Once again the 'Imperial Factor" 
was stepping in to try and rob Mm of the fruits of Ms work. In 
Ms rage, Rhodes appealed to Ms powerful colleagues on the Board 
of the Company, to exercise their influence on the Colonial Office. 
The Colonial Secretary was informed by them that 'the B.S.A.C. 
have asked the British Government nothing, and surely they have 
the right, in terms of the Charter, if victorious to settle the ques- 
tion with Lobengula, subject only to the approval of Lord Ripon'. 

To Ms Afrikaner friends in Cape Town, Rhodes, in a telegcam, 
was even more outspoken about the 'elimination of the Imperial 
Factor 3 : 

I certainly intend to settle the question on South African lines. 
I had the idea and found the money and our people have had the 
courage to fight without help from home. Surely I should have a 
voice in the final settlement. I feel I can reckon on the people of the 
Cape Colony supporting me in this view. 

Rhodes was successful in preventing, at least for the time being, 
any interference from the 'Imperial Factor', and the field seemed 
clear for Ms final settlement with Lobengula, The danger, how- 
ever, that the 'Imperial Factor' might slip in at the kst moment 
if Goold-Adams' Bechuanaknd Police with Khama's Native 
troops were the first to enter Bulawayo, capture Lobengula and 
seize his treasure would have to be avoided at all costs. 

The massing of Imperial troops on Ms borders worried 
Lobengula more than did the reports that three columns of 
Rhodes' troops had started to move towards Matabeleland. But 
he was not without hope. He believed firmly in the justness of 
Ms cause and was convinced that one Matabele with Ms assegai 
was the match of four Britishers in spite of their macMne-guns. 

With the same belief in their unconquerable strength, Loben- 
gula' s 5,000 men, singing their war-songs, marched along the 
Shangani River, straight into the murderous fire of the Maxim 
macMne-guns, to be mowed down mercilessly in their hundreds 



ON THE PERSONAL 

by Rhodes 5 troops. As soon as one column was decimated the 
next moved in, and so It went on until only a few hundred men 
were left of the many thousand. A week later an even larger 
Matabele army was utterly wiped out at Imbembesi River. 

Now they would come and seize him, Lobengula mused. But 
even though his best regiments had been lost he would continue 
to fight and go down fighting like a king, just as the great Zulu 
kings, Dingaan and Chaka, had done* Never would the white 
devils sit in his kraal, and when they came they would find 
nothing but ashes. He ordered his body-guard Bosungwana and 
ten selected young warriors of the royal regiment to load all his 
treasures on the big wagon. 

When the costly load had been stored, Lobengula ordered the 
royal kraal to be burnt to the ground and with the help of a box 
of powder nothing remained but some burnt pieces of wood, a 
few broken bricks and mounds of ashes. 

Smallpox was ravaging Matabeleland. German traders spread 
the rumour that Dr Jameson must have had a hand in this 
epidemic, or why had he had all his men and also his Natives 
vaccinated before the campaign began? 

Lobengula went north towards the Shangani River. Two days 
after his flight, on 3 November, Bulawayo was occupied by 
Dr Jameson's two columns. The Bechuanaland Police, under 
Colonel Goold-Adams, obligingly left Jameson and his men alone 
for several days to gather all the glory, and, what was more, all 
the loot. There was great disappointment when it was found that 
the entire royal kraal had been burnt down and nothing was left 
of Lobengula's fabulous treasure. 

Lobengula still wanted peace. When two captured troopers 
were brought to him he saw his chance of sending a message to 
Rhodes. He gave each a thousand golden sovereigns to bring to 
'Ulodzi* and showed them the barrels full of gold which he told 
them their master Rhodes could have . . . *and tell him they have 
beaten my regiments, killed my people, burnt my kraals, captured 
my cattle and that I want peace'. 

The message was never delivered, the gold never handed over. 
The King felt that his end was near. Not far from the banks of 
the Zambezi he ordered a halt. He was too weak to continue, 
shaking with fever and his face red with smallpox. He had found 
a cave. The ten men who formed his escort were ordered to store 

1*39] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

all Ms possessions in the cave and to make the entrance inacces- 
sible by rolling a tremendous rock in front of its small opening. 
When the work was done he had these men killed one after the 
other by his old and trusted body-guard, Bosungwana. A few 
days later, on 24 January 1894, Lobengula died and the old friend 
buried him sitting in his bath-chair. His friend made the grave 
unrecognisable by placing a large boulder over it. And the secret 
of the two places where Lobengula and his treasure were buried 
went with Bosungwana to his own grave when he died a few 
months later. Up to the present day many treasure hunters have 
searched in vain for the buried treasure of King Lobengula. 

Before the year 1893 was out, Rhodes had arrived in Bulawayo 
and immediately went to work to establish the Company there 
firmly before any interference could come from Whitehall or 
Cape Town's Government House. Together with Dr Jameson 
he proceeded to mark out townships, distribute land, organize 
new companies, send out prospecting and surveying groups and 
start to share out Lobengula* s country. 

Rhodes, in his schoolboy-romanticism or was it rather a case 
of simple vengeance? insisted that the capital of his new province 
should be erected on the site of Lobengula's kraal Gu-Buluwayo, 
and for the location of the future Government House he chose 
the very spot of the King's goat-kraal and hut. His technical 
advisers, however, rejecting such romantic fancies, erected the 
town two miles north-west of the former royal kraal. 

All the fears of the British Government in allowing a private 
person like Rhodes to conduct a private war for a joint-stock 
company against a country standing under the Queen's protec- 
torate, had thus proved justified and Sir Henry Loch predicted 
that Rhodes' next step would lead to war by the Chartered 
Company against a foreign power instead of Natives. Rhodes, 
however, bombastically assured everyone of the 'peaceful policy* 
of his company. 

The 'peaceful policy* of the Chartered Company was again 
demonstrated a few weeks later when Rhodes wanted to incor- 
porate Pondoland in the Cape Colony against the will of its Chief 
and people. The Chief, Sigcau, was summoned to Rhodes and 
told in plain words that since his people were incapable of gov- 
erning their country it would be annexed. The Chief was taken 
to a cornfield. Suddenly, at Rhodes* command, machine-guns 

[240] 



ON THE PERSONAL 

began to spray their bullets Into the high maize stacks which 
were mown down as if a ghost was running wildly over the field, 
cutting them down with a sharp sickle. Looking at the frightened 
Chief and pointing at the field and the machine-guns, Rhodes told 
him: 'And that will happen to you and your tribe if you give us 
further trouble!' 

The ruthless methods employed by Rhodes in his conquests 
did not remain without critical repercussions in England. In the 
front row of the critics was Labouchere who, in Truth y continued 
his campaign against 'these filibustering and massacring expedi- 
tions ... of Mr Rhodes and his pernicious company, a wretched, 
rotten, bankrupt set of marauders and murderers*. 

Even Rhodes* friend, W. T. Stead, felt It his duty to censure 
him, and in Parliament, on three different occasions, the massacres 
in Matabeleland came under heavy attack. 

An anonymous pamphlet, published in 1894 in Cambridge, 
expressed the popular abhorrence of liberal-minded British people 
as well as of all those whose conscience had been shocked by 
Rhodes. It bore the title: 

THE MATABELELAND SCANDAL 
by 

One who remembers the punishment which fell upon Cain for 
killing his brother, and is jealous of the honour of Great Britain 

It was a forceful J* accuse and stands as an echo of the actual 
sentiments moving thousands of Englishmen whom the poison 
of Jingoism and Rhodes' clever propaganda, as well as the 
temptations of the stock market, had left untouched. 

All these attacks were much resented by Rhodes who feared 
increased difficulties with the Government for his future plans. 
Moreover, they had unduly influenced the share market, bringing 
down again the price of Chartered shares which had been im- 
proving so nicely of late. 

At a banquet in Rhodes* honour, on his arrival in Cape Town, 
Dr Jameson feasted him as the great Empire-builder, announcing 
that the directors of the Company had decicjed to memorize his 
great deeds by naming the countries which he had opened up 
Mashonaland and Matabeleland Rhodesia. 

In his reply Rhodes again emphasized that the volunteers had 

[MI] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

beaten the Matabele single-handed without the help of anyone 
and without asking the British Government for a single sixpence. 

This historical untruth was too much for the representative of 
the High Commissioner, the Government's Imperial Secretary, 
Sir Graham Bower. He stood up and pointed out the great part 
which the British Government had played, actively and passively, 
in opening up the North, by contributing both men and money 
to the campaign and to the subsequent policing of the territory. 
He later had to pay dearly for the annoyance thus caused to 
Rhodes, who never forgot it. 

There were not many who took any interest in the welfare of 
the thousands of destitute Matabele. Rhodes had declared as the 
tenor of his policy, *I prefer land to niggers', a cynical confession 
which contrasts grossly with the terms of the Charter granted by 
Her Majesty the Queen: 

. . * The Petitioners believe that the condition of the Natives 
inhabiting the said territories will be materially improved and their 
civilization advanced. 

The Matabele had plenty of opportunity of learning what the 
white man meant by improved material conditions and an advance 
in civilization: syphilis, gin, forced labour, taxes, famine, prostitu- 
tion, debauchery, physical deterioration, lust for money, and 
fraud. 



1*4*] 



CHAPTER XIII 

GROOTE SCHUUR 

f-TpHERE never was any rest for Rhodes. He had never learnt 
JL to relax. His brain worked endlessly, planning, scheming. 
The quiet beauty of Nature which soothes even the most turbu- 
lent of minds had a stimulating effect on him. He had loved the 
countryside since his earliest youth. When he first saw from the 
sfoep of Hofmeyr's house in Camp Street the panorama of the 
Cape peninsula dominated by the severe majesty of Table Moun- 
tain he had fallen in love with the landscape. The noble simplicity 
of the old Dutch homesteads, the solidity, the dear shape and 
the superb craftsmanship of their furniture had captivated him. 
Here on the Cape peninsula, with Table Mountain always in view, 
he would settle down and build himself a house! 

Until 1893, twenty-three years after his arrival in South Africa, 
Cecil Rhodes, the Prime Minister of the country and one of its 
richest inhabitants, had had no abode there which he could call 
his own. In 1891 he learnt by chance that an old Dutch house in 
Cape Town's suburb Rondebosch was for sale. This thatched 
building had served in the time of the Dutch East India Company 
as a barn for storage and later it passed through many hands until 
it became a large farm-house amid fields and woods and vineyards. 
Rhodes bought it in 1893 and restored its old Dutch name, 
Groote Schuur. Not wishing to be confined within the narrow- 
ness of a fairly populous area, he also bought all the adjoining 
land, including the slopes of the mountain, until he possessed 
altogether 1,500 acres, at a total cost of 60,000. By chance he 
met a young unknown architect, Herbert Baker, who aroused his 
interest by his fiery enthusiasm for the harmonious beauty of the 
old Dutch architecture. This was his man! He engaged him imme- 
diately and gave him full powers to restore Groote Schuur to its 
original state as shown in an old water-colour in Rhodes* posses- 
sion. *I want the big and simple, barbaric if you like*, was his only 
directive to the young architect. On a half-sheet of paper, un- 
dated, he wrote an authorization for unlimited funds to be put at 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Baker's disposal at his bank: c Baket to be architect and cleirk of 
works/ 

As soon as work began, Rhodes gave it his full attention. In 
spite of his usual impatience with details, he now gave his archi- 
tect explicit orders concerning even minor points. Rhodes had 
never before spent any money on himself except for the merest 
necessities, and he wanted now to give himself, without regard 
to costs, the very best that money could procure; something which 
would become a monument to his personality destined to live long 
after him and to bear testimony of him not as the 'Colossus', not 
as the politician, the land-grabber, the lucky speculator, the 
millionaire, the master of gold and diamonds, but of Rhodes the 
man, the lover of sylvan beauty, the connoisseur of antique art, 
the admirer of old Cape tradition and still more of Rhodes, the 
Squire, the Grandseigneur, the Gentleman, 

Everything in the house had td be large and spacious and, 
above all, absolutely solid and of the very best. Rhodes saw to it 
that for the material used on the house local products were given 
preference wherever possible. He would not allow foreign marble 
to be imported and was very proud of the fact that his bathroom, 
which caused a sensation by its splendour and luxury, had its 
roomy bath-tub hewn out of a single solid block of Paarl granite, 
while the huge massage-slab was of Cape marble and the whole 
room and floor were tiled with a local greenish marble. 

The large back-j*/^, supported by massive pillars and gaily 
floored with black-and-white checked marble, was designed to 
become the centre of life in Groote Schuur where up to fifty 
people could be entertained. Rhodes had seen at once that it 
would offer the best panorama with the grandiose background of 
a symphony in grey of the defiant buttresses and gorges and 
precipices of Table Mountain and Devil's Peak piercing the 
blueness of the sky. 

All that was good in Rhodes, all his romantic longings which 
had not been throttled by his ambition for 'money that is 
power', emerged in his urge to express his naked self derobed of 
the ugliness brought upon him by the 'struggle for life' and the 
'survival of the fittest'. In his last years, when in a reflective mood, 
he repeatedly said that 'the greatest of all life's pleasures is the 
faculty of creation'. And it is remarkable that he did not mention 
as his creations the foundations of his private empire in Central 

[244] 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

Africa, the Cape to Cairo line, the penetration of the African 
continent by telegraph and railway, the amassing of one of the 
greatest fortunes in the British Empire or the mastership over 
the diamond industry., but referred with pride to Groote Schuur 
and its park. He would point from the stoep in the back of his 
house towards the mountain view which grew, as it were, slowly 
out of the loveliness of eye-blinding blues and reds and purples 
and greens and yellows and mauves and whites of the flowers, 
out of the shrubs, the hedges and the trees, wild and tamed, to 
form, in harmonious set chords or in exciting strange dissonances, 
a sonorous chorus of colour to the glory of the sun. Then he 
would say: 

*It is a thing of my own creation: creative genius, that's what 
I've got. It is a great thing to have/ 

Even his 'foible of ske' did not interfere with making the 
formal garden in the front and back of the house a full success. 
All the expert gardeners warned him that hydrangeas would not 
grow in the sandy soil of the hills around the house. *They told 
me I couldn't grow cotton in Natal/ was Rhodes' reply, and he 
ordered whole acres on the hills and in the groves to be planted 
with hydrangeas. He wanted to have a 'blue lake of hydrangeas', 
and he succeeded. To this day at Christmas-time the hydrangeas 
fill the garden of Groote Schuur with a flower-lake in all the shades 
of blue, pink and purple. 

His favourite flower, however, was the simple light blue 
blossom of the plumage shrub of which he had hedges built all 
around the terraces at the back of the house against masses of 
bougainvillaeas. Almost throughout the year a plumage blossom 
could be seen in Rhodes' buttonhole. 

All his efforts were directed towards the enjoyment of an 
unobstructed view of the mountain. Although he hated to fell 
trees, a number of pines had to fall victim to the axe because he 
wanted to see the mountain from his bed as soon as he opened 
his eyes. 

Rhodes' favourite seat was on the slopes of the mountain, 
where he had built himself a bench. To this spot he would often 
retreat on his rides, fastening his horse to an aloe plant. From 
there he would glance with satisfaction at the long rich grass 
which covered the paddocks like a thick green catpet. This grass 
was his pride, and no honour meant more to him than when later 

[245] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

the grass (CMoris Compnssa} was called 'Rhodes Grass*. He had 
found It growing on a farm near Queenstown, where French 
Moravian Brothers had cultivated it from seed which they had 
brought from India. After Rhodes 9 success with it, seed of the 
grass was exported to all parts of the world. 

After his horticultural success Rhodes wanted to improve *4$o 
the fauna on his estate. He imported from England several 
hundred nightingales, thrushes, rooks, starlings and chaffinches 
as well as squirrels. Of the birds only the starlings survived and 
multiplied to such an extent that today they have turned into a 
serious threat to the Cape's fruit crops, just as the squirrels have 
become a cursed pest beyond control. Such failure did not dis- 
courage Rhodes. He fenced off a large slice of land where wild 
animals, particularly South African species, could live in their 
natural surroundings, and he began a private zoological garden 
where he kept In cages lions, leopards, monkeys, baboons and 
a few birds of prey. The upkeep of the lions alone cost Rhodes 
more than 200 a year. Once, during a meat shortage, they had 
to be fed on imported cold-storage meat, the high cost of which 
Rhodes, with reference to the feeding of his lions, used as an 
argument in Parliament against the duty on meat. 

One Sunday morning he saw a picture of the Temple of 
Theseus, and the idea occurred to him that the straight lines of the 
classical architecture in its marble whiteness would contrast 
splendidly with the greyness of the mountains and that such a 
structure was ideal for a lion-house. Baker was summoned imme- 
diately. He was horrified at the thought. He tried to dissuade 
Rhodes by telling him that the lions would immediately fight and 
kill each other. Rhodes replied excitedly: 

*So much the better; it is their nature to, and they would enjoy 
themselves the more/ 

But Rhodes soon forgot the project and began to occupy him- 
self with the building of roads. With his own money he built one, 
eight miles long, leading from Rondebosch through his estate and 
the sun-drenched vineyards of Constantia, to the seaside at Hout 
Bay. On each side of 'Rhodes Drive 7 he planted trees: red- 
flowering gum trees, camphor trees and the only chestnut trees 
in the Cape, 

It was not only for himself that he undertook all this work. His 
friends were to enjoy his house and park with him, and his whole 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

estate was to be open to the public from morning to nightfall. 
Groote Schuur became Cape Town's most popular picnic spot, 
and people, white and black and brown, arrived there in every 
kind of vehicle to spend the day. Rhodes raised no objections to 
these mass invasions; on the contrary 'How delightful to see 
one's fellow-creatures about, enjoying themselves/ he said. 

*Why do I love my garden? Because I love to dream there/ 
Rhodes confessed another time. And he wanted others e to come 
and dream also'. Out of this idea grew a plan to create *a cottage 
in the woods for poets and artists. If they live in beautiful sur- 
roundings', Rhodes explained, c they will be better inspired to 
interpret through their art the beauty and grandeur of the 
country/ He built a roomy cottage amid the pine trees, and when 
it was almost completed he invited to Eve there the English poet 
who lay nearer than any other to his romantic heart: Rudyard 
Kipling was asked to come to *The Woolsack 9 every year during 
the English winter and *hang up his hat there*. 

The imposing landscape held Rhodes spellbound. He once took 
Sir George Martin, the eminent organist of St Paul's Cathedral, to 
see *my view*. After they had sat for many minutes Rhodes said 
to him, speaking hesitantly: 

T)o you know why I brought you here? . . . Well, I have had 
many artists here and have wished them to paint this view but 
they can't do it. They can't grasp the enormous expanse. Now 
I want you, when you go back to think of this scene, and put it 
in your music at St Paul's/ 

Rhodes' other contacts with art and literature were few. The 
pride of place in Rhodes' library was held by a sculpture of the 
bird Phoenix in soapstone, probably of Phoenician origin, found 
among the ruins of the Zimbabwe temples. 

The Phoenix appealed to Rhodes' romantic vein particularly. 
He consulted many books on the subject and acquired a thorough 
knowledge of Africa's earliest times. The Phoenix bird Rhodes 
chose as his emblem and used it liberally for decorative purposes 
in his house. One copy was made for the Committee Room of 
the Cape Executive Council *in order that members might in their 
deliberations realize their puniness when they contemplated that 
emblem of antiquity'. 

In a cabinet, also in the library, Rhodes ke|>t a collection of 
excavations in stone and bronze connected with the Phallic cult 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

of the Phoenicians. His interest in the Phallus worship of some 
mysterious early settlers in Central Africa was misunderstood and 
maliciously misinterpreted by some visitors to Groote Schuur, 
giving rise to ugly rumours about Rhodes* abnormal sexuality. 
The scandalmongers linked their tales, the same as those which 
had already been whispered in Kimberley years before, with the 
fact that Rhodes had only bachelor friends, that he kept his 
private secretaries only as long as they were not married, and 
that there was not a single female servant employed at Groote 
Schuur. 

Poor Rhodes, he never seemed able to escape scandalous 
rumours! At the beginning a great number of coloured and 
Native girls had been working in his house and kitchen, until he 
learnt that people in town had been spreading the maddest stories 
about wild orgies going on at Groote Schuur in which his 
chambermaids and scullery maids were supposed to be playing 
the leading parts. So disgusted was Rhodes that he immediately 
dismissed all female employees and did not allow even the wives 
of his men-servants and labourers to live on his estate. 

Besides some very fine old French tapestry in the billiard-room 
and dining-room, there were few pictures on the walls. He was 
very proud of one picture, a portrait of a young woman by 
Sir Joshua Reynolds. Often he had the picture taken down and 
with his friends studied its details. Rhodes said that she repre- 
sented his idea of female beauty, that he had known her from an 
illustration in a book and loved her since he was a lad of seveft or 
eight. With a peculiar look in his eyes, he told his friends, as 
though in confidence: *I call her my lady!* 

Certain books, as we have seen, had played an influential part 
in Rhodes* spiritual development when the cultural impact 
received at Oxford had flung the intellectually sterile young 
digger from Kimberley too suddenly into the heights of classical 
civilization, the glaciers of philosophy and the crevasses of 
historical science. Those books which had first fertilised his 
brain in a belated and long-drawn-out puberty continued to feed 
Rhodes, the cynic, the unscrupulous hasarder, the arbitrary 
dictator, with the romantic ideas necessary to him as an antidote 
against the soul-destroying realism of his abject business methods* 
On his travels over the veld he always had handy in his ox-wagon 
pocket editions of his favourite books, especially a complete 

[248] 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Those 
same books, together with Bryce's American Commonwealth^ 
Milner's England in Egypt, Mahan's Influence of Sea Pomr and some 
biographies of Napoleon, could always be found on the book- 
shelves in his be.droom. 

Rhodes' great interest in Napoleon was shown by the many 
works of Napoleonic literature in his library. On several occasions 
Rhodes mentioned that there was not a single biography of the 
Corsican that he had not read, yet he could never be drawn into 
a discussion about Napoleon. Carlyle and Froude were also 
favourites of his. Novels only served him to kill time on his long 
journeys. Once, when he was about to leave for England, he 
asked his secretary how long they would be on board, and on 
being told twenty days, he gave orders to put forty of the latest 
novels into his cabin trunk: 'One for the morning, one for the 
afternoon, that means forty books/ Rhodes explained. A London 
bookseller had a standing order to send him weekly parcels of the 
most important new publications, but Rhodes rarely found the 
time to read them. If he thought a book might interest him, he 
gave it to one of his secretaries to make a summary for him, 
because, he said, he *had not time to wade through books full of 
padding** 

He was still not interested, as he had already confessed at 
Oxford, *in the class of people Dickens wrote about 9 , and only 
a few of his books and several of Thackeray's novels, of which 
he liked Vanity Fair best, were to be found in his library. His 
acquaintance with even the well-known books of his time must 
have been very scanty. He once gave a friend's young daughter 
R. L. Stevenson's Treasure Island as a present saying: 

'You ought to read it; it's a very good book very instructive/ 

'Have you read it, Mr Rhodes?' the child asked. 

In annoyed tones and flushing red, Rhodes told her: 

*Now you run away and playl* 

It seems strange that the only work of fiction which aroused 
his admiration and which he considered a great novel, The Choir 
Invisible, should have been by an American author, James Lane 
Allen (1849-1925). 

Another work of fiction, also by a foreigner, Emile Zola's 
Germinal, had a great effect on him too, though of a different kind: 
it pinched his social conscience. If Zola had known that his 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



laboriously created document bumain of the saga of the Rougon- 
Macquart family would help to improve the lot of miners in 
South Africa, he would certainly have rejoiced though he would 
hardly have understood why only workmen of a white skin should 
benefit. 

It was in a London drawing-room that Rhodes stated: 
c lt was the reading of Germinal which caused me to realize the 
necessity of providing decent homes and harmless pleasures for 
the Kimberley miners/ But Rhodes' freshly awakened social 
conscience did not go so far as to make him think of the thousands 
of Natives, crammed together and locked up in De Beets* 
compounds. 

No book fascinated Rhodes as much as did Gibbon's great 
work. It kept him under a spell until his end with never-abating 
strength. One would have thought that his real interest lay in 
Elizabethan times, in *men of action* of the size of Raleigh or 
Drake, or in those of a later century Clive or Hastings whose 
qualities as 'Empire-builders' closely resembled his own. What 
was it then that caused him instead to devote himself to the 
period when the mighty Roman Empire was undergoing a process 
of decay? It was evident that Rhodes was not so much interested 
in the Roman Empire as in those deified despots who were the 
absolute masters of her fate. Yet the fascination which the 
degenerate Roman emperors, whose vices and perversities filled 
normal men with disgust, held for Rhodes, offers a psychological 
problem all the more difficult to solve because Rhodes, in his 
general, political, social and cultural conceptions, in his*education 
and in his associations, was so thoroughly English, 

Some other points in Rhodes' taste also form an apparently 
insoluble contradiction: only two men were represented by their 
likenesses in Bis house. In the drawing-room there stood a bronze 
bust of Robert Burns, though none of Ms works were to be found 
in his library nor did Rhodes ever allude to a liking for the poet 
or even to having read any of his works. For the privacy of his 
bedroom one would have thought that the 'great Empire-builder* 
would have chosen for inspiration a portrait of his Queen or at 
least that of one of England's national heroes. The Squire of 
Groote Schuur preferred, however, on opening his eyes in the 
morning, to look at a portrait of Prince Bismarck. Perhaps the 
portrait of the Iron Chancellor' was meant to serve Rhodes as 



GROGTE SCHUUR 

a daily reminder of the dangers threatening South Africa from 
German MacbtpoKtik. Or was it expected to instil in him some- 
thing of Bismarck's obduracy? 

Rhodes' rektionship to the Roman emperors was of quite a 
different nature, probably completely unpolitical and purely per- 
sonal. He felt something 'foreign* in himself and thought that it 
might have originated in some Roman blood which his early 
ancestors, whose connection with an Aegean island was indicated 
by the family name, had brought with them to England. When- 
ever Rhodes was mistaken for a Jew he became very embarrassed. 
In his later years certain Semitic features became more con- 
spicuous so that he never allowed photographs or paintings to 
be done in profile. His sister Edith once told a friend: 'There is no 
doubt of some Jewish blood in us and Cecil knows it as well as 
I do, but he prefers it to be Roman/ When Rhodes was given 
a gift of a medallion of Titus because he looked exactly like this 
Roman Emperor* his interest was immediately aroused and he 
obtained pictures of contemporary statues, busts and medals to 
make further comparisons. He liked to show these pictures of 
Titus to visitors and always pointed out: 'What a fine forehead 
he's got!* Once one of Ms servants had to hold a mirror so that 
Rhodes could see his profile in another mirror and compare it 
with that of Titus. 

On his voyage to England after having acquired Groote 
Schuur, Rhodes spent all his time reading Gibbon. He found that 
the great historian dealt with the causes for Rome's political 
decadence rather than with personalities. He wanted to know all 
and everything about the Roman emperors with all the little details 
about their lives and characters. In London he consulted the old- 
established bookshop of Hatchards in Piccadilly, and asked them 
to procure for him a collection of all the authorities and sources 
used by Gibbon for his work, but in English translations. He was 
told that most of these works had never been translated into 
English* 'Then they will have to be translated/ was Rhodes* reply, 
and he gave the astonished bookseller what was certainly the 
strangest order ever given by a book-collector or received by a 
bookseller: Hatchards had to engage a staff of classical scholars, 
sometimes as many as twenty, who were kept busy for six years 
translating from the Latin and Greek and also procuring photo- 
graphs of contemporary illustrations. Everyone working on the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

scheme was bound to absolute secrecy. Only one copy was made 
of each work, typed on special hand-made paper and bound 
together with the original text in red marocain-leather. Rhodes 
had forgotten that the later chapters of Gibbon's work dealt with 
early Christianity and was therefore surprised to receive volume 
after volume of works translated from Greek and Latin Church 
Fathers which dealt with intricate theological problems and 
casuistic ritual arguments. Urgent cables were sent to London to 
stop the supply of more theological sources and to arrange that 
farther work should concentrate on the lives of the Roman 
emperors. The complete collection amounted to several hundred 
volumes at a cost of about 50,000* 

The danger that his imagination might be fanned by the history 
of Rome and that the study of it might become an obsession and 
degenerate into grandiose delusions must have occurred to 
Rhodes. In his pocket edition of Marcus Aurelius* Meditations the 
following passage was underlined and often quoted by him: 

Take care always to remember that you are a Roman and let every 
action be done with perfect and unaffected gravity, humanity, 
freedom and justice. And be sure you entertain no fancies which 
may give check to these qualities. . . . Have a care you have not too 
much of a Caesar and that you are not dyed with that dye. This is 
easily learned, therefore guard against the infection. Be candid, 
virtuous, sincere and modestly grave. 

It can hardly be maintained that Rhodes acted according to this 
wise advice of the Roman sage. But it has to be admitted in 
Rhodes' defence that his stupendous success would have turned 
the head of any man and filled him with an imperturbable sense 
of infallibility, a burning urge of self-importance and an un- 
swerving sense of God-like elevation. The year 1895 had brought 
Rhodes to the pinnacle of his career: his Queen had honoured 
him ('such a remarkable man*) by the nomination as Privy 
Councillor. He now became the Right Honourable Cecil Rhodes, 
P.C., ranking high on the social ladder. He was able to reply 
proudly to the Queen when she asked him what he had lately 
done: 

*I have been adding new provinces of several hundred thousand 
square miles to Your Majesty's already wide dominions/ 

But it was really his own empire which Rhodes had built up 

[252] 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

in Africa between latitude 30 south and ktitude 5 north. He had 
fulfilled the dream of his youth to paint the map of Africa red, 
British red. The Cape to Cairo railway scheme was progressing; 
Rhodesia was already linked by rail with the Cape and with the 
east coast. His telegraph line had reached Central Africa, 

The financial difficulties of the last years had been overcome. 
The n shares of the British South Africa Chartered Company, 
though no dividends had ever been paid and were not to 
be paid until 1923 had reached the fantastic price of more 
than 9. 

At a shareholders* meeting of the Chartered Company Rhodes 
had strengthened popular optimism by saying: *I think we may 
fairly say that we shall balance in the future. The new country is 
"mineralized" and all will be well.' 

The appearance of the 'Colossus* at the shareholders' meeting 
had brought Rhodes a great personal success and enough pub- 
licity to raise Chartered shares still higher. A week later a lecture 
at the Imperial Institute, with the Prince of Wales as chairman, 
given by Dr Jameson who had just been decorated with the 
Order of the Bath, brought the valuable public royal sanction for 
Rhodes* enterprises. At a subsequent banquet Rhodes and 
Jameson were the guests of honour. 

Although Rhodes had already said more than enough about 
Rhodesia's rosy future, Dr Jameson surpassed him in speaking 
about 'innumerable gold-fields*. It led people acquainted with 
Rhodesian conditions to ask 'whether his talk was the result of 
ignorance, windy hope, the dinner or a purely fraudulent inten- 
tion, as every major statement was fantastically wrong'. Though 
no gold to any extent had as yet been found in Rhodesia, more 
than 200 mining companies had been floated and their shares had 
been taken up eagerly at a premium on the London Stock 
Exchange. 

In the season of 1895 Cecil Rhodes was lionized by London 
Society. He was now generally accepted as belonging to the 
Prince of Wales' intimate set. No longer did he stay at the busy 
middle-class hotel, the Westminster Palace Hotel. Now he booked 
at the Burlington Hotel, where, at a daily price of 25 , he occupied 
a suite consisting of a sitting-room, a dining-room and several 
bedrooms. There he held court like a sovereign, attended by his 
private secretaries, his servants and a whole bevy of minions. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Members of the Royal Family came to call on Mm; ambassadors 
of the great Powers left their cards; the scions of England's oldest 
noble families paid their respects to him. In his sitting-room there 
also assembled all those who had something to sell and his 
secretaries were hard put to it to prevent them from penetrating 
farther than the antechamber. 

Not even the strongest barriers could keep out Rhodes' many 
friends. They flattered him; they made him drunk with their 
admiration; they encouraged him in Ms pride, Ms conceit and his 
belief in his own infallibility. The extent to wMch they went in 
their disgusting adoration can be judged by the words of W. T. 
Stead, who in the Review of T^eviews spoke of Rhodes as c the only 
man in the West with ideas that can be compared for the moment 
with those of the Pope for comprehensive scope and breadth of 
purpose 7 . Rhodes, always prone to self-assertion and presump- 
tiveness, needed little encouragement. His great success killed all 
self-criticism in him. 

At tMs time Rhodes commanded a yearly Income, as he kter 
stated on oath, of considerably more than 1 million. From De 
Beers alone he derived 300,000 to .400,000 and from Goldfields 
200,000 to 300,000. His profits from Ms large share transactions 
were not included in tMs income. It was not the possession of Ms 
enormous wealth alone wMch led Mm to feel beyond good or 
evil and far above the accepted rules and laws governing the lives 
of ordinary citizens. He felt the power wMch Ms money had 
brought Mm. His aim of acMeving power through wealth had 
now been realked, and he was determined to make use of this 
power in completing the ultimate goal of Ms ambitions to 
become the absolute and supreme master over the whole of 
South Africa. 

In Ms capacity as Prime Minister Rhodes checked any resistance 
by Ms old system of 'squaring*. No longer did he trouble to use 
Ms charm or joviality to take an opponent *on the personal*. 
Brutal coercion had taken its place. To one of Ms critics, who had 
taken exception to Rhodes* triple business position as interfering 
with Ms PremiersMp, Rhodes gave a seat in Ms Cabinet. Once, 
when Ms Ministers were raising difficulties at a Cabinet meeting, 
he told them bluntly: 

'You think I cannot fill your places in the Ministry. Well I 
have another hungry dog to whom I can throw a bone Mr X,' 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

Where his business was concerned, Rhodes did not shrink from 
anything which would further his interests. In the United States 
the Kinley Tariff imposed a duty on luxury goods so high that it 
made the export of diamonds to the United States almost impos- 
sible. A movement for the repeal of this high protective tariff 
-was started in the United States in 1893. Rhodes, on the advice 
of American diamond merchants, charged an agent to do some 
extensive lobbying for him in Washington, and to suggest in his 
name *in return for some support of the silver cause in die United 
States* the freeing of diamonds from any import duty. 

In the United States, with presidential elections soon coming up, 
political feelings were running high in 1 894 over the two issues of 
the Silver Purchase Act and the Tariff reform* At such a time of 
most serious political and economic upheaval Rhodes, the Prime 
Minister of a British Colony, decided to enter Washington's 
political arena. It did not occur to him that he had no official status 
that entitled him to interfere with a totally internal political matter 
of a foreign country. Neither could he claim the privilege of the 
freedom of action of a private individual. His many engagements 
did not allow him to visit the United States himself as he had 
planned. He thought that a letter would do just as well, and thus 
he sent to the President, with copies to all the Senators, a letter 
full of fulminant threats, promises and good advice. 

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, in the name of thirty-three other 
Senators, gave an appropriate answer to 'the recent astonishing 
communication to the President of the United States from the 
Premier of Cape Colony'. He wondered what right the sender had 
*to suggest another proper exercise of this legitimate discrimina- 
tion'. 

Senator Lodge thought that such impertinence of foreign 
interference deserved a strong rebuke by coldly stating the actual 
facts in contrast to the distorted views of this arrogant man who 
was in control of a world diamond monopoly: 

. . . Since the discovery of the Kimberley diamond fields less than a 
quarter century ago, diamonds to the value $175,000,000 have been 
imported into the United States. ... It is estimated that the country 
now absorbs from one third to a half of the annual product of these 
South African diamond mines, which are controlled by English 
investors, who have limited the output, created a trust and practically 
control the price of the diamonds of the world. . . , 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

A duty of 30 per cent on diamonds was suggested by these 

tMrty-three Senators in order to 

check consumption and reduce the excessive artificial prices for 
these stones which now prevail and might induce people of Cape 
Colony to believe that the present attitude of Great Britain in relation 
to silver is not only unfair and unjust but is also injurious to the 

interests of that colony. 

Such reverses did not discourage Rhodes for long* His position 
in England was now so firmly established that the few Liberal 
newspapers and financial journals which were still criticizing him 
sharply no longer worried him: 

'Newspapers do you think I care a continental fig what the 
newspapers may say? I am strong enough to do what I choose in 
spite of the whole pack of themP 

Nevertheless he never missed an opportunity to bring his 
influence to bear on newspapers. In South Africa he had brought 
several under his control. But it has to be said for the integrity of 
South African journalists that no editor ever wrote to his dictation 
or refrained from publishing something which Rhodes did not 
like. As long as the editors followed the big line of his policy he 
left them sufficient rope in as far as details were concerned and 
did not mind even an occasional criticism of some minor political 
problem, Rhodes never attempted to use any of his papers or any 
independent journalist for his financial manipulations* 

Rhodes was, however, very sensitive about personal criticism 
in the Press* though in most cases he refrained from prosecution 
for libel. Only once, after the occupation of Matabeleland, did he 
sue several London publications for their personal attacks and 
brought successful actions for damages against them. 

He was annoyed by an unfriendly comment in The Saturday 
Review just after his appointment as Privy Councillor and when 
he came to London its editor, Frank Harris, increased his attacks. 
With his knowledge of 'squaring*, Rhodes found it easy to come 
to terms with Harris, though experience had lately taught him 
that people could be 'like many plants, or one should say, trees; 
once you start watering them you must continue to do so'. 

Only rarely had Rhodes met people who refused to be either 
'squared* or 'taken on the personal'. Not many had the strength 
of character of the devout missionary Francois Coillard, who, 

[256] 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

when offered the position of Commissioner of Barotseland as a 
bribe to help Rhodes persuade the tribal chiefs to sign their 
territories away, knelt down and prayed: *Oh, my God, let not 
Thy servant be the martyr of a political transaction!' 

Another exception was Samuel Cronwright. In 1894 he married 
the famous South African authoress Olive Schreiner, who at one 
time was an admiring friend of Rhodes', but later became one of 
his bitterest antagonists. The Cronwrights, for reasons of Olive's 
health, had moved to Kimberley, where they formed a new party 
with the aim of fighting Rhodes and the Bond, whom they 
accused of preparing war against the Transvaal in order to 
overthrow Kruger. 

To utter such unfriendly political thoughts about the 'Colossus*, 
particularly in his own citadel, was considered treason and blas- 
phemy or perhaps only an attempt at blackmail. After Cronwright 
had delivered a lecture at the Kimberley Literary Society, the 
bitterness of which, in an attack on Rhodes, easily revealed the 
main author as his wife, the gentlemen in the De Beers board- 
room thought that the time had come to put a stop to such 
dangerous activities. 

If it was not possible to 'square' this obstinate fellow and his 
fanatical wife even though they needed the money badly, Rhodes 
would have to find %ome other means of counteracting their 
dangerous propaganda against himself and the Bond. He commu- 
nicated with Hofmeyr, who recommended to him as a useful 
propagandist a young man, Jan Smuts, who had just returned 
from Cambridge. Hofmeyr reminded Rhodes that they had met 
Smuts seven years earlier as Head Student at the Stellenbosch 
Victoria College. 

Rhodes engaged Smuts, who had just established himself as 
a barrister in Cape Town, to work for him by writing political 
articles and delivering speeches. One of his first tasks was to appear 
in Kimberley and, in answer to the Cronwright-Schreiners* fulmi- 
nant challenge, to address the De Beers Mines Political and 
Debating Society on the subject of 'The Political Situation*. 

When the president and secretary of the society went to the 
station to meet the speaker they were astonished to find a pale- 
faced, blue-eyed, ridiculously thin and tall young man 'without 
hair on his face*, who looked no more than seventeen. They had 
expected Mr Jan Christiaan Smuts, the twenty-five-year-old Cape 

[257] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Town advocate who^ besides his Stelienbosch degrees In Litera- 
ture and Science, had won the rare distinction of several prizes in 
Law at Cambridge and had been offered a fellowship there, to 
look rather different. 

When the Mayor introduced the speaker to the 2,ooo-odd 
people who packed Klmberley's town hall that October evening 
in 1 895, they were at first amused at the idea that this insignificant- 
looking bit of a lad should have anything to tell them about the 
political position that they did not already know. But they listened 
to him with growing interest. Though he did not tell them any- 
thing new, though they disagreed with him in almost everything 
he said, though they knew that most of Ms statements were far 
removed from fact, they soon fell under the spell of his oratorical 
power. When the people went home after having listened for two 
hours to his arguments they were convinced, at least for some 
time, that the Cronwright-Schreiners were false prophets and that 
Cecil Rhodes was indeed a wonderful, honest, altruistic, and 
benevolent man. 

Rhodes could not have found a better propagandist. He was in 
urgent need of a strong defender not only of his ideas but still 
more of Ms own personality. By 1895 even old friends were 
complaining that success and Ms fabulous wealth had killed in 
Rhodes that old boyish 'magnetic* charm and the simple com- 
radesMp and warm cordiality wMch he had always shown towards 
them. It had lately been supplanted by a ridiculous pomposity, a 
repulsive arrogance bordering on megalomaniac disdain of every- 
one else. His cynicism, Ms tactlessness and Ms gniffness no longer 
knew any bounds and often, when applied on defenceless objects, 
took the form of mental sadism. 

After the occupation of Matabeleland Rhodes had seen to it 
that the few sons of Lobengula who had not been killed were 
removed from the territory, in order to prevent any future trouble 
led by members of the Royal House. Three sons of the younger 
wives, all bright young lads, he took with Mm to Cape Town and 
had them educated there. Their holidays they spent at Groote 
Schuur. 

One day he was telling some friends about Rhodesia and be- 
came confused about the dates. The three Matabele boys, aged 
fourteen, fifteen and eighteen, were working in the garden, 
Rhodes called to them, shouting from the stoep: *Let me see, what 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

year was It I kilied your father? 5 His guests were still more shocked 
when the three boys whether out of politeness or embarrass- 
ment joined in the shrill staccato giggle with which Rhodes 
foEowed Ms words. 

Another time, when Rhodes was showing visitors around his 
house, he pointed to his bed and said: 'This is where I lie and 
think in continents! * 

life at Groote Schmir was ruled by almost regal pomp which 
Rhodes 9 old friends found hard to reconcile with the unceremo- 
nious, unconventional, free and even coarse ways of the Cecil 
Rhodes of old. They did not feel at home in Groote Schuur, 
where evening dress was now ds rigueur., though the master of the 
house often appeared in his usual day-time attire of white trousers, 
Norfolk sports jacket and veldschoens coarse shoes made locally 
of untreated leather. To one of the first official dinners at Groote 
Schuur, Rhodes had invited all the high state dignitaries headed 
by the Chief Justice (later Lord) and Mrs De Villiers. All the 
guests had been asked to appear five minutes earlier than Mr 
Justice De Villiers. A ceremonial plan had been worked out, 
such as Rhodes had recently learnt at Sandringham and Windsor. 
The staff, who had been instructed accordingly, were under the 
direction of young J. Morris, a former InniskiUing Dragoon, who 
acted as major-domo, housekeeper, librarian, steward, bailiff and 
travelling secretary. 

The guests were all assembled when both wings of the door 
were opened and Norris, solemnly marching ahead, announced 
in his sonorous dragoon-sergeant-major voice: *His Honour the 

Right Honourable Chief Justice De Villiers * All eyes searched 

for Rhodes to welcome his guest of honour. There was no sign 
of Rhodes until they noticed the seat of his pants sticking out 
from beneath a sofa where he had gone in search of his shoe 
which he had slipped off because it pinched him. 

Norris was probably the only one towards whom Rhodes only 
rarely employed his usual strong language* One of Norris* duties 
was always to carry a pocket dictionary with him as Rhodes was 
continually at war with the spelling of even the most common 
words. Norris used to say: * . . And so I taught Mm the simple 
words and" (with a wink) *he taught me the hard ones/ It was 
difficult for Norris to bring any kind of order into the household 
of Groote Schuur, the upkeep of which swaEowed a monthly 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

an< i even when closed 900. Without warning Rhodes 
would bring home for dinner up to twenty people when only 
eight guests had been prepared for. He hated to be alone at meals. 
Sometimes there were assembled at Rhodes' table the strangest 
and most varied collection of men: a stiff English nobleman and 
a clumsy sick trooper on leave from Rhodesia; an old spitting 
gold prospector and a titled 'remittance' man; a saintly missionary 
and a pompous nouveau ricbe Rand magnate; a scientist and a 
business man; a bishop and a wine-farmer; a mining engineer and 
an Afrikaner Karroo sheep-farmer could be found there sharing 
an uncomfortable meal. 

Sometimes Rhodes invited guests on a Friday for the week-end 
without informing Norris, and they would number more than 
there were beds in the house. On one occasion Rhodes met a 
friend in Cape Town, and during the course of conversation he 
said: 'You must come out to Groote Schuur to stay with me for 
some days,* to which the friend replied indignantly: 'But, Mr 
Rhodes, I have been staying with you for the last week.* 

Old friends were surprised by the type of men with whom 
Rhodes now surrounded himself. Though Rhodes had always 
proved himself to be a good judge of men after a short acquain- 
tanceship, he now did not seem to mind the parasites, the spongers 
and the spittle-lickers who became predominant at his 'court* and 
were known as 'Rhodes' jackals'. It was particularly strange to see 
the great number of doctors whom Rhodes entrusted with the 
most important and delicate assignments which had nothing to 
do with their medical profession. After his lucky experience with 
Dr Jameson he must have thought that in every medico there 
slumbered a genius for colonial administration, a talent for 
diplomacy and a gift for political intrigue. Among the younger 
doctors, he had chosen as his special confidant Dr Rutherford 
Harris who had come out from England for health reasons a few 
years earlier. Since he spent most of his time hunting and since 
his medical abilities and his intelligence were none too great, he 
was not able to earn an income sufficient for a life of luxury to 
which he thought himself entitled. Dr Harris thought that he 
could do everything better than anyone else. He decided that he 
would speculate in mining shares and show those Kimberley Jew- 
boys of the Stock Exchange a thing or two. Within a few weeks 
all the savings for which his father had worked for a lifetime were 

[260] 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

lost. Rhodes engaged Mm and witMn a short time he had risen 
to the position of Secretary to the Chartered Company and also 
handled Rhodes' private, political and public affairs. When asked 
why he had given him such a position of trust, Rhodes, who like 
everyone else had a very low opinion of Dr Harris 5 intellectual 
and moral qualities, sighed and replied in a tone of resignation: 
'There is something against everyone. I must take men as I find 
them/ 

Even before later events had proved Harris* unreliability > his 
criminal corruptness, his pathological mendacity, his love for 
double-crossing intrigue, his disloyalty, his vain stupidity and 
stupid vanity and his arrogance, Rhodes described him as *a rogue 
and at times a furious inebriate'. Dr Jameson, who knew him even 
better, spoke of him as c a muddling ass on the surface a genius 
but under the crust as thick as they are made*. A friend called 
him publicly 'an unmitigated liar* even before he was stamped in 
Parliament as 'the greatest and most unashamed liar, a perjurer 
of the meanest sort, a man without any moral sense'. 

Such was the man whom Rhodes chose to represent him per- 
sonally as well as the Chartered Company during the delicate 
negotiations with the British Government in 189 5. 

Why, Rhodes was asked, did he surround himself with so many 
doctors? *I like doctors for my work, because their calling gives 
them such an insight into humanity,' was his reply to which he 
later added, followed by the usual squeaky laughter: 'and because 
when there is blood-letting to be done, they are less squeamish/ 

In former times an answer such as this, dripping with savage 
cynicism, would not have shocked his friends those few real and 
unselfish friends who did not buckle under the 'Colossus'* But 
they were beginning to detect behind this sardonic contempt for 
human values the ugliness of unmasked brutality, of unrestrained 
recklessness and of a morbid rancour. No longer did he try to 
control the eruptions of the boiling geysers of his temperament. 
No longer did he allow decisions to mature with the warmth of 
contemplation. No longer did he let his carefully laid plans ripen 
slowly into success. Everything had to be done quickly without 
regard to the means employed. He wanted to play God and use 
his powers to direct the fate of men, the destiny of nations, the 
future of a whole continent. What had once been 'imaginations* 
and 'dreams' had now become obsessions that did not allow 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



natural obstacles or human obstructions to stop, delay at quieten 
Ms turbulent will. 

The pain in his chest caused by the pressure of the heart, the 
wild pulsation of the 'water hammer 5 on his wrists and the fright- 
ful feeling as though the heart would burst, showed that Ms 
leaking heart-valves were working overtime. And every stroke of 
Ms heart, every pulsation on Ms wrist, seemed to be telling him: 
Hurry, hurry your time is running out. Rhodes often said that 
he was sure he would not become older than forty-five years. He 
was now in his forty-first year. Only four more years were left in 
wMch to finish all Ms "dreams 5 and Ms 'imaginations 3 . He sighed: 
c The great fault of life is its shortness. Just as one is beginning to 
know the game, one has to stopP 

Rhodes began Ms race with Death. Faster! Hasten! No time 
must be lost! Each heart-stroke, each breath, each tick of the clock 
tortured Mm with the dreadful thought that Time was his master: 
'It is a fearful thought to feel that jou possess a patent, and to 
doubt whether your life will last you through the circumlocution 

of the forms of the Patent Office We do get older, and we do 

become a little hurried in our ideas because of that terrible time. 
Time you can never interfere with. 

Those who had not seen Mm for some time did not recognize 
Rhodes. It was obvious that he was a very sick man. One friend 
observed that he looked 'thin, grey and haggard'. And another that 
he looks rather six years older than six months than when I saw 
him last. He has fallen away in flesh and there is a faraway 
appearance as though he had some special burden on his mind/ 

People who met Mm in one of his inspired loquacious moods 
when he went on talking rapidly without pause and attracted 
everyone by the brilliance of Ms conversation noticed something 
strange in him wMch they would have attributed to the effects of 
inebriation had they not seen for themselves that he had drunk 
only moderately. Others maintained that he often gave the impres- 
sion of being drugged. When they asked Dr Jameson, he discreetly 
shrugged Ms shoulders* 

The thought of an early death was rarely far from Rhodes' 
mind. There were times when he wanted to forget his horror of 
death. Someone only needed to tell him how well and young he 
looked, that his mind was still young and that he would always 
be a boy, and Rhodes would immediately be in an exultant mood. 



GROOTE SCH0UR 

Pacing up and down the room he would repeat over and over 
again: *I am a boy! I am a boy! Of course I shall never get old. . . / 
His eyes would suddenly regain their former lustre; Ms huge body 
would lose its slovenly curve and become erect and towering. He 
would stretch out his arms, his steps would sound full of energy 
and with a jubilant cry he would sink down on the sofa and repeat 
to himself: *I never felt younger! I never felt younger never 
felt younger * 

In addition to the fear of an early death there now came to the 
surface his strong belief that he had been called upon by Fate to 
perform a special mission in life. He now considered himself more 
than the 'agent of fate*: he thought he was Fate Itself. What he 
had done up to now, his conquest of the North, had been 
described as 'the dream of a lunatic'. They knew now that 'the 
lunacy of the project . . . had passed from the era of imagination 
to practical completion'. And so Rhodes said, 'we have to com- 
plete with all the rapidity we can the project that is before us 
that is the project of uniting the North and the South of Africa*. 
And there was no doubt in his mind that he had been ordained 
to shape the destiny of the African continent* From the musings in 
his library there remained firmly fixed in his mind the portraits, 
the lives, the deeds and the thoughts of the Roman emperors. 

*. . . Was it not always the little things that changed the world 
and not the big things? All the great conquests of the world 
came from accident. ... I was fortunate in forming an imaginative 
conception and succeeding within a period that was hardly equal 

to the term allotted to an Oxford student They might discover 

the microbe of the rinderpest but would they ever find the microbe 
of the human imagination? ... It came and thoughts came, and 
I was moved as a human atom to carry out those thoughts. . . / 

No power of imagination, no dreams, no musings over his old 
map, could help him now. Recently he had warned one of his 
associates: 'Don't deal with hypothetical cases deal with facts/ 
Rhodes himself, however, could not free himself from Ms medita- 
tions over the completion of Ms great plans: 

When I find myself in uncongenial company, or when people are 
pkying their games, or when I am alone in a railway carriage, I shut 
my eyes and think of my great idea. I turn it over in my mind and 
try to get a new light on it; it is the pleasantest companion that 
I have. 

[2631 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

His conquest of the North was completed and needed only 
consolidation. But the peak of his work the United States of 
Southern Africa was still a long way from realization, Rhodes 
had at last learnt that the obstacle was no longer the obstinacy 
of a single old man, Paul Kruger, but the deeply rooted system of 
conservative Calvinism, reactionary xenophobia and corruption 
which Rhodes described as Krugerism and which a contem- 
porary critic called the 'political economy of Spain in the days of 
Phillip II applied by Kruger to the community of the most modern 
and progressive manufacturers ever assembled together in one 
spot'. 

The Rand, where the gold output was ever increasing, gave the 
little Boer republic tremendous political and economic power. As 
the natural centre of South Africa the Transvaal had already in 
1895 gained international importance. Johannesburg was an inter- 
national town of 50,000 white inhabitants of which two-thirds 
were British. In a new community like Johannesburg where the 
chief interest of its population centred round the problem of 
getting rich quickly, it was not surprising that the percentage of 
low, even criminal elements was higher than in the older towns 
of other countries. A British general referred to Johannesburg, 
full of indignation, as 'Monte Carlo superimposed upon Sodom 
and Gomorrah! probably the most corrupt, immoral and un- 
truthful assemblage of beings at present in the worldP 

A town such as this, grown suddenly out of the veld, with a 
highly developed industry and being linked, through haute finance -, 
with the international share-market and banks, stood in gross 
contrast to the capital of the country, Pretoria, the little dreamy 
Boer town only forty miles away. The mentality of Pretoria's 
inhabitants had not changed in spite of the fact that the ox-wagon 
had been replaced by the railway. The influx of the foreigners had 
only strengthened their traditions by which they fortified them- 
selves against any undesirable influence on the straitness of their 
ways, the primitiveness of the economy and the simplicity of their 
political system. The Uitlanders worshipped their idols in the 
temple of the Stock Exchange, whereas the Boers were still 
adhering to the laws of Moses. The new-comers were building 
tfp their future on bank-credit while the Boers saw security only 
in the possession of land and stock. 

In the stagnated development of the Transvaal, Rhodes sensed 

[264] 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

a threat to the balance in South Africa > fearing that his plans 
would be frustrated and that Fate might direct the future of the 
continent without him. 

At first Rhodes had tried to bring the Transvaal into his 
economic and political orbit, by the peaceful means of a customs 
union, a railway-tariff convention, treaties on post, on coinage 
and on the treatment of Natives and common laws which,, he was 
sure, would sooner or later lead to closer relations and to the 
ultimate absorption of the small republic. Behind these proposals, 
the soundness of which many Boers did not deny, President 
Kruger saw only the bogy of British imperialism, represented by 
Rhodes, the ruthless land-grabber. He therefore declined all 
Rhodes' approaches. At their last interview, towards the end of 
1894, Rhodes had come to the conclusion that he would never 
win over the 'old Dopper' by peaceful means. The only way left 
to him was the removal of Kruger and Krugerism by force. It 
was unlikely that any British Government would sanction war in 
Africa, since they had to be on the look-out for possible aggressive 
constellations by the big European Powers against Britain as a 
result of her 'splendid isolation*. 

There were other means which could be employed; tactics, 
which in kter years became known as *cold war' and 'fifth- 
column', and were to lead in their combination to bloodless 
revolutions. 

In Johannesburg the Uitlanders had been agitating fot several 
years for the extension of the franchise to all aliens through the 
political machinery of the National Union. This perfectly legal 
and justified movement Rhodes decided to make his tool and to 
load it with revolutionary fervour and a spirit of conspiracy and 
fighting lust. He really believed that a 'revolution, like everything 
else, could be ordered for money*, as Garrett kter wrote in the 
Cape Tims. He could count on the full understanding and support 
of the "shrewd financiers, keen men of action, life-long worship- 
pers of money and material success, to whom a belief in Cecil 
Rhodes became a substitute for religion'. He made the mistake of 
forgetting that Johannesburg was in the midst of a gold-share 
boom such as the world had never seen before. Rand shares, the 
aggregate value of which had amounted to 50 million sterling in 
1894, rose to 150 million sterling in September 1895. Of the 183 
gold-mines of the Rand, however, only 79 yielded any gold, and 

[265] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

there were altogether only zj companies which were able to 
declare dividends in 1896. 

Rhodes now had no choice: he was forced into action. The 
Chartered Company was again in serious financial troubles. No 
gold of any intrinsic value had been found in Rhodesia and even 
the last prospects were fading* So far the long-threatened bank- 
ruptcy had been avoided only by the continual fresh issues of 
shares and debentures. Since its existence the deficit of the 
Company had reached the amount of 1,500,000 more than its 
original nominal capital as the result of a cunning manipulation 
of its financial affairs by which all the profits were absorbed by 
Rhodes and his clique while the shareholders had to carry all the 
expenses. In spite of this, Rhodes and Beit by clever manoeuvring 
were keeping the price of shares up to 8 to fy though their real 
value was about three to five shillings. Rhodes and his friends 
made hay while the sun was still shining and unloaded large 
parcels of their own shares on the gullible public. They needed 
new funds to keep the Chartered Company afloat and to finance 
the planned Johannesburg "revolution". The main purpose in 
risking his position and fortune in a conspiracy against a friendly 
neighbour-state was to save that very position and fortune from 
ruin. If only he were able to "Kimberlize* the Rand, monopolize 
Its gold-fields by amalgamation and combine them with his empty 
Rhodesian gold-mines! Therein lay the Chartered Company's 
and with it Cecil Rhodes' only salvation. It was therefore 
imperative for him to bring the Transvaal under his thumb and 
eliminate Kruger. 

Before Rhodes would risk his money on a revolution, he first 
tried to accomplish Kruger's removal by means of the blood of 
British soldiers and the money of the British and Cape tax-payers: 
he created a situation out of an unimportant issue which nearly 
led to war against the Transvaal. 

There was a dispute between Kruger and Rhodes about the 
railway tariff on the fifty-two-mile stretch over Transvaal territory 
which formed the connection on the Cape line between the Vaal 
River and Johannesburg. Kruger had increased the freight-rate 
in October 1895 in order to attract the oversea traffic away from 
the Cape route to his Delagoa Bay-Johannesburg line. In answer 
to this challenge Rhodes reduced the rate from the Cape to the 
Transvaal border and organized an ox-wagon service to cover 

[266] 



GROOTE SCHUUR 

the fifty-two miles over Transvaal territory. The wagons had to 
cross the Vaal River on the Transvaal side through drifts, Kmger 
promptly closed the drifts. 

Rhodes had found a new and an unexpected ally in the new 
master in the Colonial Office, Joseph Chamberlain, On studying 
closely the old London Convention of 1884, Rhodes found a 
suitable paragraph. He persuaded Chamberlain to turn the thumb- 
screws on the Transvaal Government. Chamberlain was willing 
to fall into line, provided that the Cape Government would bear 
half the costs of a military expedition and would supply some of 
the fighting force. Rhodes was in a quandary: he had to consider 
the Bond, Hofmeyr and his Afrikaner colleagues in the Cabinet, 
Using the TransvaaPs high customs tariff on the Cape's wine and 
brandy as a weapon., he succeeded in bringing them all round 
nicely. An ultimatum was sent to Kruger from London. The old 
man was too wise to allow himself to be drawn into a war at an 
hour convenient to Rhodes and Chamberlain. On 5 November 
1895 he reopened the drifts and the incident was dosed. 

When Chamberlain took over the Colonial Office, Rhodes had 
immediately begun to speed up his preparations for the final 
settlement with Kruger. Rhodes felt that pressure from within 
the Transvaal would have to be supplemented by pressure from 
without. A *war of nerves' would have to put Kruger into such 
a state that the least provocation would act as dynamite and bring 
about the required situation where an intervention by well, by 
whom? probably, because it was cheaper, by the 'Imperial 
Factor', would make tabula rasa of Krugerism in the Transvaal 
for ever. 

A field of operation was required from where Rhodes would be 
able to put pressure on the Transvaal in assistance to the planned 
Johannesburg rising. British Bechuanaland, which Rhodes had 
helped to secure for Britain, was about to be handed over to the 
Cape Colony as had been arranged in 1885. Rhodes had cast Ms 
eyes on the northern part of Bechuanaland, the British Bechuana- 
land Protectorate, which had been part of the Charter, but over 
which the Chartered Company had not as yet been given adminis- 
trative powers. Rhodes now asked for the incorporation of this 
territory with Rhodesia. 

At first, in the autumn of 1895, Whitehall seemed not dis- 
inclined to grant Rhodes' demand. Chamberlain, however, felt 

[z6 7 ] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

that behind Rhodes* haste lay some nefarious plan. He therefore 
purposely delayed his consent by going on holiday. 

He had been right in his assumption that Rhodes was unduly 
anxious to obtain the consent. The three paramount chiefs of 
Bechuanaland, assisted by missionaries, were on their way to 
London to beg the Great White Queen not to allow them to 
suffer the same fate at Rhodes' hands as had been dealt out 
to Lobengula. Seeing that they were good Christians and had 
never allowed spirits to enter their lands, the London Missionary 
Society and all the forces of Exeter Hall, thoroughly assisted by 
the Liberal Press and by all the papers inimical to Rhodes, began 
such loud protests that the Government had to refuse Rhodes' 
demand. Boiling with rage, Rhodes let off steam in a cable to 
Dr Rutherford Harris: 

It is humiliating to be utterly beaten by these niggers. They think 
more of one Native at home than the whole of South Africa ... I 
never objected to this part of the agreement, but I do object to being 
beaten by three canting Natives especially on the score of temperance 
when two of them . . . are known to be utter drunkards. The whole 
thing makes me ashamed of my own people. 

Rhodes was not to be outwitted quite so easily. In November, 
behind the back of the British Government, he made a direct 
treaty with two minor chiefs by which he secured for himself, on 
the pretext of needing it for his railway line but really as a 
*jumping-off ground', a strip of land north of Mafeking. The 
importance of the strip, though it was only six to ten miles wide, 
was the fact that it joined the western Transvaal border. Chamber- 
lain, after some hesitation, confirmed the sale and also made no 
objections, though he was fully aware of the purpose, when 
Rhodes assembled there a strong and heavily armed military 
police force. Quite openly Rhodes recruited volunteers in 
Rhodesia, took over into his service the dissolved Bechuanaland 
Border Police and dispatched most of the Rhodesian Police to the 
railway strip. Headquarters were established at Pitsani, a little 
Native place near Mafeking on the Transvaal border. In com- 
mand of this private army was Rhodes* raid specialist Sir John 
Willoughby. 

The open arming of a private army was being carried out right 

[z68] 



GROOTE SCHUUE 

under the nose of the highest official of the administration of the 
Bechuanaland Protectorate, Her Majesty's Commissioner, Sir 
Francis Newton, Rhodes' old Oxford friend. And in Government 
House in Cape Town Sir Graham Bower, the Imperial Secretary^ 
also one of Rhodes' friends, was let into the secret of Pitsani by 
Rhodes, but prevented by his word of honour from speaking 
about it to anyone. Rhodes had told him: 'If trouble in Johannes- 
burg comes, I am not going to sit still. You fellows are infernally 
slow* You can act if you like, but, if you do not act, I will.* 

There was one man who had felt prophetically the storm-clouds 
gathering over his head and had feared that his good name would 
be sullied by the approaching mud-stream, finally to be buried 
in the 'South African graveyard of reputations': Sir Henry Loch 
preferred to return home dry and spotless and had thus retired 
from office in March 1895. 

Since at that time Rhodes' good friend Rosebery was still 
occupying No. 10 Downing Street, Rhodes did not want Loch 
replaced by one of those Whitehall bureaucrats or by a pompous 
flag-waving, meddling, morning-coat-and-striped-trousers fellow. 
He wanted Sir Hercules Robinson back as High Commissioner. 
The Colonial Office was not very keen on recalling the old man 
from retirement, knowing full well his dose personal and financial 
links with Rhodes. When Chamberlain referred to this point in 
the House of Commons Sir Hercules resigned from his various 
directorships. His nomination was thereupon welcomed since he 
was considered the most suitable person for the difficult position 
in the time of a crisis in South Africa. Chamberlain eventually 
dropped his objections. 

After Robinson's nomination Rhodes wrote to him: 

"... If we should ever come to difference, I promise you that 
111 see in it a sign that I'm wrong.' 

Robinson folded the letter carefully and put it in his pocket- 
book, saying: 'This letter I'll keep/ 

With the ailing senile man installed in Government House and 
his friend Sir Graham Bower muted, Rhodes felt himself com- 
pletely unhindered and uncontrolled. The last remnants of his 
conscience went overboard. The Prime Minister of the Cape 
Colony* one of Her Majesty's Privy Councillors bound by several 
holy oaths, instigated and took an active part in the smuggling 
of arms from the Cape into the Transvaal, arms which were 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

destined to help conspirators against the lawful government of 
a friendly foreign state! 

It was the end of Cecil Rhodes as a responsible politician. He 
had turned a political adventurer. And for what? For geological 

reasons! Nature had had the silly idea of embedding gold in the 
rocks of the Witwatersrand. 



[270] 



PART III 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE UPSET APPLECART 

E year was drawing to a close. Between Christmas Eve and 
JL the first days of January business life in Cape Town, follow- 
ing an old custom, stops almost completely. The sky is far too 
blue, the sun too hot, the sea too inviting, the shady slopes of the 
mountains too attractive and the consequences of celebrating over 
the Christmas holidays too exhausting to work before another 
string of days of merry-making, the New Year holidays, begins. 
Thus, whoever could afford it closed his store, his office or his 
workshop and enjoyed the cool breeze of the Atlantic at Sea Point. 
Those who were more enterprising suffered willingly the jolts and 
bumps of the cape-carts in an uncomfortable sixteen-mile journey 
to one of the rising fishing villages like Muizenberg on the False 
Bay coast, to have a dip in the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. 
The Malays of the town, though strict Mohammedans, took the 
opportunity of the Christian festival to make gay, the womenfolk 
by dressing in the brightest colours and the men, only their fezes 
and their brown faces indicating their eastern origin, by competing 
in choir-singing, street against street, district against district. 
Cape Town's numerous half-castes, the Cape Coloured, forgot all 
the misery of their lives during this time of the year by abandon- 
ing themselves completely to the celebration of their carnival 
season. For weeks they had saved pennies to make themselves 
fancy-dress costumes from the cheapest material, in which they 
paraded through the town dancing and singing to the accompani- 
ment of accordions, guitars or mouth-organs. 

Everyone, whether rich or poor, indulged in some form of 
pleasure and rejoiced in a happy festival mood. There was nothing 
to worry the sedate inhabitants of Cape Town. Business men 
could look back on a prosperous year. The Kimberley mines had 
been busy; on the Rand everyone had prospered. Money there 
had been plenty of it in the country, much of it due to the long 
and tremendous boom on the share market. There had lately been 
a little set-back, but that was probably only a passing phase. 

[*73] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Wool prices had been satisfactory and, though the farmers had 
as usual been complaining^ they had actually not experienced such 
good times for many years. One had to admit that Mr Rhodes 
with his 'Cabinet of AE Talents' had done well The 'Colossus* 
himself^ as cautious merchants In the City Club often remarked, 
had his fingers in too many pies and often took rather hazardous 
risks* But why grumble, when he always got away with It? 
Rumours had It that something was brewing on the Rand. People 
just arrived from Johannesburg were actually speaking about a 
revolution of the Ultlanders there against the Boer Government. 
It was amazing, really, how long they tolerated the shame of 
dancing to Oom Paul's tune. These rumours and the drop in 
prices on the c Kaffir Circus* on the London Stock Exchange were 
indeed a little disturbing. Perhaps one should worry about 
it? But after all Mr Rhodes and his new boss in London, Mr 
Joseph Chamberlain, had lately been showing the 'Old Dopper* In 
Pretoria that he could no longer make sport of the British Lion. In 
Government House, since die unapproachable Sir Henry Loch 
had been replaced by dear old Sir Hercules Robinson, there 
now prevailed a more energetic tone dictated by the 'Colossus', 
who made sure that the old boy would jolly well let him do as 
he liked. 

At home, in the old country, the wind was blowing another 
way too: Lord Rosebery was swept out of office with his party, 
the Liberals, by a Tory tidal wave. With a majority of 152 Lord 
Salisbury took over the reins for the third time. The effect of a 
militant imperialism was immediately noticeable in Britain's 
foreign politics: in spite of her 'splendid isolation' in confronting 
the Triple Alliance under German leadership as well as a Franco- 
Russian Entente, Lord Salisbury allowed the British Lion to roar 
so vehemently that only a few weeks ago war had seemed immi- 
nent between Britain and the United States for such a trifling 
cause as a disputed boundary between Venezuela and British 
Guiana. In the Far East trouble was brewing as a result of Russian 
penetration and in the Near East the Armenian Massacres by the 
Turks were used by the Russians with French help as a threat to 
force the Dardanelles and seize from the *Sick Man of Europe* 
his much-coveted capital, Istanbul. The new masters in Whitehall 
did not content themselves with the vocal efforts of the British 
Lion, but were resolved to regain Britain's former prestige as the 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

deciding factor in the balance of power in Europe by means of 
the plain international language of naval guns. A British squadron 
was lying ready outside the Dardanelles. 

Much as Salisbury desired to come to terms with Germany, he 
was determined not to allow Ms country to become involved in 
the Kaiser's mad Machtpolitik* Salisbury gave the Kaiser a lecture 
on Britain's unwillingness to have her foreign policy dictated in 
the future by the Wilhelmstrasse. He spoke with such forthright- 
ness and vehemence that from that August day in 1895 dated the 
beginnings of tense relations between die two countries. 

The people at the Cape were not very interested in high politics 
conducted 6,000 miles away; still less were they interested in the 
Kaiser's little intrigues with which they thought, though errone- 
ously as they were to learn only a short while afterwards. South 
Africa had nothing whatsoever to do. 

Among the people who could not join in Cape Town's 
general merry-making and enjoy a carefree holiday during the 
Christmas season of 1895 was the Cape's Prime Minister, Cecil 
Rhodes. 

As usual, Rhodes was already up when his boy Toni came to 
waken him at day-break. They all knew that the baas had to be 
handled carefully in the morning, the time of day when he was 
the most irritable. Almost every morning his servant found him 
leaning out of the large bay-window looking at the mountain 
view. He often wondered whether his master ever slept at all since 
he rarely found him an bed. Before dressing, Rhodes would walk 
through the house to see that all the windows were wide open. 
On his way downstairs he would check the time of each of the 
numerous antique grandfather docks. Still in his pyjamas he 
would call for one of his secretaries, all young South African men 
known as ^Rhodes' Lambs'. Rhodes hated letters, both writing 
and receiving them. Important letters were sometimes not 
answered for days. Telegrams he answered immediately and often 
dictated his reply sitting in his bath. He took a childish pleasure 
in having Ms correspondence conducted by telegram or cable, and 
the longer they were the more he enjoyed it. Very often, when a 
thought struck him, he would call in his secretary, using his 
favourite expression: e Come now, let us make a telegram,* 

Though Rhodes as the head of the many and krge companies 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

handled millions, he was extremely careless where his own finan- 
cial affairs were concerned. Rarely did he know how much ready 
money was at his disposal, and often he would transfer large 
amounts before they were due to him. When worried bankers 
informed him that there were no funds in his private account he 
would think nothing of taking the required sums from De Beers 
or Goldfields. Let his co-directors just dare to make difficulties. 
. . Were not De Beers, Goldfields, the Chartered Company and 
the many large and small dependencies his very own property? 

What shares and how many he actually owned no one, least of 
all himself, could tell. Some of the shares were entered in the 
names of friends, secretaries or employees. His staff found valuable 
share certificates crumbled up in the trouser-pockets of discarded 
suits, as bookmarks in his library, among private letters in his 
desk* His banks were often puzzled when they were presented 
with large cheques, bearing Rhodes' signature, written in pencil 
on odd pieces of paper. 

Sometimes it was still dark when Rhodes set out on his morning 
rides. He mostly rode alone, accompanied only by Toni or one of 
his secretaries. Often they covered twenty-five tidies; Rhodes always 
had a certain destination in mind and his favourite ride was along 
the mountain slopes towards the sea. He was mostly silent during 
the rides. *I think horse exercise increases the activity of the brain,' 
he used to say. He liked small, quiet horses which were easy to 
mount. *One doesn't want to spend one's energy and time in 
mounting,' he said. The horse had to be a good 'walker' and he 
was never seen to trot. His seat was still as bad as in his earlier 
days, perhaps even worse, riding as he did with long stirrups and 
holding the reins loosely in his hands. He would sit on the horse 
as though half asleep. Because of the droll figure which he cut on 
horseback the miners in Kimberley had nicknamed him *Jack 
Ashore'. 

At breakfast, especially at week-ends, there was always open 
table at Groote Schuur. Business friends and politicians were told: 
'Come out on Sunday and have breakfast with me and we'll go 
and see the lions.' On weekdays Rhodes went the six miles to 
town by cape-cart and was back for lunch. In the afternoons he 
slept till tea-time which he took at five o'clock on the back stoep. 
He hated to dine alone, and thus there were always numerous 
guests for dinner. 

[276] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

On Saturday, 28 December 1895, his house was full of guests. 
Beit was there and Rutherford Harris, both having recently 
returned from London* From Johannesburg there had arrived 
Charles Leonard, the President of the National Union, and 
Frederic Hamilton, the editor of the Star. *Matabele* Thompson 
and Edmund Garrett, the young editor of the Cape Times^ and a 
number of others were there for the day. 

Everyone remarked on Rhodes* nervousness. Still more obvious 
was the excitement of Beit, who was pacing up and down, end- 
lessly lighting cigarettes and tossing them away after a few puffs. 

The guests noticed that Rhodes did not touch his tea. He 
ordered drinks contrary to his habit of not touching liquor until 
shortly before dinner* Those who knew him well also knew that 
a storm was brewing, since only recently Rhodes had declared: 
'Under the stress of worries I have sometimes taken liquor 
betwebn meals, but I mean to do so no more/ 

He called to Leonard and Hamilton: 'Come with me and look 
at the hydrangeas!* The three men were seen sitting together on 
a bench, and Rhodes' purple face and squeaky voice, which some- 
times penetrated through the clear summer air, showed that he 
was in a great rage. Charles Leonard, the leader of the Reform 
Movement, had left his Johannesburg 10,000 law practice, and 
had come down to Cape Town together with Hamilton to discuss 
with Rhodes the most recent developments in the pending revolt 
which had originally been planned for 28 December. During the 
last few days a controversy had arisen among the Reformers about 
the flag. It had been understood from the beginning that the rising 
would take place under the Transvaal Vierkleur flag. Dr Jameson 
had considered this as 'merely talk* in order to bring over many 
of the non-British followers. He was convinced that the Union 
Jack would be hoisted as a matter of course. Now many Reformers 
belonging to other nationalities wanted an assurance from the 
Committee that nothing would be changed and that they would 
march under the Transvaal flag, since their common aim was 
reform and not annexation of the Transvaal by Britain. They 
considered the sudden change to the Union Jack a betrayal. The 
enthusiasm of most of the conspirators, in as far as they had been 
able to become enthusiastic at aU about a revolutionary movement 
treated as a business proposition, had faded. Dr Jameson, parti- 
cularly, had aroused everyone's suspicions. He had been in 

[*77] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Johannesburg shortly before Christmas, and in Ms usual cynical 
way had shown so much impatience that many thought of giving 
up the plan for die time being and starting afresh later. The big 
mine-owners, the financiers and some of the leading executives 
who sat on the Reform Committee did not like the predominant 
role which Rhodes and his friends had usurped. True enough, he 
and Beit had contributed lavish sums. But so had they and others. 
It was easy for Rhodes to talk sitting snugly at Groote Schuur, 
whereas they would have to risk thek necks. President Kruger 
had warned, in one of Ms ktest speeches; *. . . Before one can 
kill a tortoise, it must put its head out/ The hint had not fallen on 
deaf ears. Should they risk their lives to pull the chestnuts out of the 
fire for Rhodes so that he might become master of the Transvaal? 

Rhodes* mistake ky in leaving the execution of the planned 
revolution to those of Ms subordinates who were the least suited 
for the job men like the three doctors, Jameson, Harris and a 
recent addition to Ms collection of medical handymen, a Dr Wolff 
from Kimberley, and especially Ms elder brother, Colonel Frank 
Rhodes. TMs gallant and amiable cavalry officer had no experi- 
ence whatsoever in handling civilians, still less in dealing with 
millionaires playing at conspirators. Cecil Rhodes had installed 
the colonel nominally as Ms representative at Goldfields, but 
actually to manage the Reform Movement for Mm. Frank had 
unreserved faith in Ms brother, but others had little trust in Cecil 
Rhodes. Rhodes' unpopularity was fanned by Ms old enemy Sir 
J. B. Robinson, *the Buccaneer'. Though Robinson had accepted a 
baronetcy from Ms Queen, he had become a staunch propagandist 
of Krugerism. It paid good dividends for Ms own extensive 
interests on the Rand and it gave Mm a better opportunity to lash 
out at Rhodes. 

On one point Robinson's opinion was shared by all clear- 
headed men on the Rand* Lately they had been asking whether 
the whole Reform Movement had not beei> instigated principally 
for the benefit of a few mine magnates and a handful of specula- 
tors, or perhaps only for the advantage of British imperialism 
represented by Cecil Rhodes. Actually, the great mass of miners 
had hardly anything to complain about. It made little difference 
to them whether they were being exploited under the Vierkkur 
flag or the Union Jack. Working conditions were not ideal, but 
they were paid good wages. 




Paul Kruger and his wife. A photograph taken during the 
South African War 




Olive Schreiner 



Princess RacMwill 




THE UPSET APPLECART 

Lionel Phillips, Beit's junior partner, had hit the nail on the head 
when he told Rhodes and Beit: "... as to the franchise I do not 
think many people care a fig about it 3 . The recently amended 
Transvaal Naturalixation Law compared well with the laws of 
other countries and was, in fact, more liberal than the British one. 

Rhodes, before 1894, had never expressed a word of sympathy 
for the Uitlanders. He was too much of a realist to imagine that 
he could supply the Rand miners with enthusiasm for the coming 
revolution with the same ease as he had supplied them with rifles 
and ammunition. Enthusiasm, there was no doubt about it, was 
sadly lacking even among the staunchest British patriots. Among 
the workmen a revolution managed by 'bloody capitalists 5 ' natur- 
ally aroused their suspicions. All that they could expect was that 
President Kruger would be replaced by President Rhodes. How- 
ever, they tried to make the best of it. Various 'Rifle dubs* had 
been formed where men were drilled in the evenings. Attendance 
was paid out of Rhodes* funds at the rate of i per drill. 

So little did the leading conspirators understand the men and 
conditions with which they would have to deal that they fixed the 
date for the revolution for the December week when the greatest 
races of the year took place in Johannesburg. Yet even without 
the races they would not have succeeded in moving many 
Uitlanders to fight. When rumours went through the town that 
zero-hour ^vas near there was a complete rout. A rush for the 
trains to the Cape and Natal began. Ugly scenes took place when 
thousands rushed the trains, climbing through windows and 
hanging on to footboards. Many well-known figures left in 
disguise. It was a general same qm pent in the hour of danger. 

Though a number of men looked forward to the *fun* provided 
by a 'little revolution* and there were others in whom still 
blossomed a spirit of revenge ('Remember Majuba*), there was 
no doub't in the minds of the impartial that the only people really 
interested in an uprising of the Uitlanders were Rhodes, Beit and 
a handful of other mine magnates. Even men near the Rhodes 
group were aware of the true position and objected to the rising. 

Rhodes did not care. He dragged them into it, one and all. 
Even the question of the franchise of the Uitlanders was only a 
pretext for him: 1 do not like the idea of British subjects becoming 
burghers, and that is why I prefer that burghers should become 
British subjects. . . / Politics had always served Rhodes as an 

[*79J 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Instrument for his financial interests. This time, too, his grievances 
against the Transvaal were of a purely economic nature and all 
political differences were artificially exaggerated in order to 
camouflage the real issue. The Chamber of Mines, under Rhodes* 
direction, had complained about the gold-mining laws of the 
Transvaal though they were lenient in comparison with those of 
most other states. Taxation of the mines in the Transvaal, another 
complaint, amounted to only 5 per cent on the profits and was 
actually only rarely enforced. Rhodes himself, in Rhodesia, had 
fixed the tax at 50 per cent. One of the main grievances was 
Kruger's refusal to allow the mines to cage the Natives in com- 
pounds on the Kimberley system. The mine-lords complained 
that 10 per cent of the gold was stolen by the Natives, which 
was in fact more than improbable. 

For years the mine-owners had been trying to induce the 
Transvaal to give them title-deeds to their mines. According to 
Transvaal law private landed property had never been recognised 
by the State, and this constitutional principle referred not only 
to mines but also to all knd in town and country. Only leases for 
ninety-nine years were given. All minerals were considered 
national property, and the Government granted only mining 
rights. 

The main attacks against the Pretoria Government by the 
Rand lords were directed at a dynamite monopoly held by Beit's 
cousins, the brothers Lippert, who made an enormous profit out 
of it. The total cost to the mining industry of this dynamite 
monopoly amounted to 600,000 a year, which worked out at 
not even a minimal fraction of I per cent of their working costs 
and almost nothing of their profits. In later years under British 
rule, the dynamite monopoly was acquired by De Beers, which 
still possesses it to this day, protected by heavy duty and rail 
tariffs. 

These demands were made issues of great importance by an 
industry which in the case of bona fide companies paid yearly 
dividends of 30 to 60 per cent and could afford to provide each 
of their directors with a bonus of 200,000 to 400,000 a year. 
They could not seriously maintain that their existence depended 
on these questions. 

All this could and would have been settled by negotiations 
with the Transvaal Government, and during the last few months 

[280] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

there had been very promising signs of a friendly understanding. 
The conspirators, however, were afraid of any amicable settle- 
ment of the differences between the Uitlanders and Kruger that 
would deprive them of the chance to take action. In order not to 
be forestalled by Kruger, as in the affair of the dosing of the drifts, 
the revolution would have to take place soon, 

Many sober-minded people in Johannesburg refused to allow 
Rhodes to lead them by the nose. Among them were several of 
the big mine-owners, men like Abe Bailey and especially Barney 
Barnato. It seemed strange that Barnato, *that cunning little Jew*, 
had to preach to those dyed-in-the-wool Jingoes, who had always 
looked down on him as *more or less a foreigner*, what allegiance 
to the Queen and to the country of his birth, and what pride in 
one's British nationality really signified. He, like every decent 
Britisher, would never barter his British nationality for financial 
advantages. He vehemently declined to join the Reform Com- 
mittee and was seriously upset when he learnt that his junior 
partner, his nephew S. B. Joel, had become a member. 

As the date originally fixed for the revolution drew nearer 
many of the conspirators in Johannesburg began to get cold feet. 
With Dr Jameson's permanent coaxing and Dr Rutherford 
Harris' drunken jabbering, they began to shudder at the thought 
of having placed the fate of a town, the lives of thousands of 
human beings, the future of a valuable industry and the destiny 
of a country, perhaps of a continent, in the hands of these two 
men whose unreliability needed no further proof. 

It had been arranged that Dr Jameson should set out from 
Pitsani on 28 December, when the rising in Johannesburg was to 
take place, and march his column to their aid. Now, with arms as 
yet insufficient, with thousands of men running away and with the 
flag question not yet settled, the leaders in Johannesburg decided 
to postpone the date for at least ten days, if not longer. The chief 
leader, Charles Leonard, after having signed a fulminating mani- 
festo calling a mass-meeting for 6 January, left Johannesburg for 
Cape Town on Christmas Day, in order, as he said, to confer with 
Rhodes. In Johannesburg, however, people said openly that he 
had chosen the better part of valour by running away. 

There now began a frantic exchange of telegrams between the 
Reform Committee and Dr Jameson, who was pulling madly at 
the leash on the border. All their telegraphic correspondence was 

[281] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

conducted in code, not a private code but In one of the popular 
commercial codes available in every book" store. Only the names 
and special references were expressed in special secret words. It 
was symptomatic of the mentality of these merchant-adventurers 
that they chose as code-words for thek revolution terms borrowed 
from company promoting such as 'flotation*, 'shareholders* meet- 
ing* and ^diamonds'. Dr Jameson's troops became 'foreign 
subscribers'. 

Still, on 23 December, Harris sent a wire to Dr Jameson, 
reading (decoded): 

Company -will be floated next Saturday [28 December] iz o'clock 
at night; they are anxious you must not start before 8 o'clock and 
secure telegraph office silence. We suspect Transvaal is getting 
aware slightly. 

At the same time Dr Harris, who had been given the appropriate 
code-name of 'Cactus*, tried to goad on the Johannesburg cold- 
footed revolutionaries: 

Dr Jameson says he cannot give extension of refusal for flotation 
beyond December, as Transvaal Boers opposition shareholders hold 
meeting on Limpopo. . . . 

Colonel Frank Rhodes, however, was too experienced a soldier 
to imagine that action could be taken when the leaders had 
become lukewarm; the chief leader had preferred to seek security 
in Cape Town, and what was left of the rank and file was at the 
races. He wired to Cape Town, withthe consent of the Committee, 
on 26 December: 

It is absolutely necessary to postpone flotation. Charles Leonard 
left last night for Cape Town. 

Dr Jameson's brother, who held an executive position in 
Goldfields and was one of the leading conspirators, telegraphed 
Ms brother simultaneously via Cape Town: 

It is absolutely necessary to postpone flotation through unforeseen 
circumstances here altogether unexpected, and until we have C. J. 
Rhodes* absolute pledge that authority of Imperial Government will 
not be insisted on [refers to the Union Jack]. . . . 

[18*] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

To this message, when forwarding It to Pitsani, Rutherford 
Harris added: 

Charles Leonard will therefore arrive Cape Town Saturday 
morning; so you must not move until yon hear from us again. Too 
awful, Very sorry. 

The conspirators, knowing Dr Jameson's impatience and 
obstinacy, did not want to leave the matter of stopping him to 
a few telegrams which, he could deny having received. They 
therefore dispatched two messengers to Pitsani,, Captain Holden 
and Major Heany; and so as to be doubly sure, the one was sent 
by rail and the other by road. 

In spite of all wires from Rhodes, Frank Rhodes, Harris, the 
whole Reform Committee and individual members, Dr Jameson 
clearly did not want to wait. 

On Friday, 27 December at three o'clock, he wired to Harris 
that his troops had gone forward, but that he would try to stop 
them and that he expected telegraphic authorization the next 
morning to proceed. Two hours later he threatened that if the 
Johannesburgers *do not we will make our own flotation*. After 
receiving the Johannesburg wires he discovered that the real 
cause for the delay lay in the fact that his co-conspirators in 
Johannesburg had succumbed to an attack of mortal funk. In his 
rage he sent Colonel Rhodes the scornful message: 

Grave suspicion has been aroused. Surely, in your estimation, do 
you consider that races is of the utmost importance compared to 
immense risks of discovery, daily expected by which under these 
circumstances it will be necessary to act prematurely? Let J. H. 
Hammond inform weak partners [the] more delay [the] more danger. 
Dr Wolff will explain fully reasons to anticipate rather than postpone 
action. Do all you can to hasten the completion of works. 

There followed a telegraphic bombardment of Dr Jameson 
from Cape Town and from Johannesburg to stop him and make 
him wait for Major Heany, who was due to arrive on a special 
train. Even Rutherford Harris sobered up sufficiently to see the 
disaster which a rash action by Jameson would bring about. He 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

tried to pacify him by a wire sent on the morning of Saturday, 
the z8th: 

You are quite right with regard to the cause of delay of flotation, 
but Ch. Leonard and Hamilton of Star, inform us movement not 
popular in Johannesburg; when you have seen Major Heany, let 
us know by wire what he says; we cannot have fiasco. 

*No, we must not risk a fyasco , we mustn't risk a 

fiasco , no fy-asco,' Rhodes said over and over again as he 

walked up and down the path between the hydrangeas. 

Rhodes had always preached: 'If you cannot manage a thing 
one way, try another!* And thus he now told the two Reform 
envoys with a shrug of the shoulders: * Another time!' and he 
recommended them half-heartedly to *go on quietly'. The envoys, 
obviously greatly relieved, echoed: 'Another time*, and were 
starting to speak about a 'new programme* when Rhodes left 
them abruptly. By his flushed face one could see his contempt for 
those 'mugwumps', as he called them, who at every opportunity 
waved the Union Jack and shouted themselves hoarse with Jingo 
phrases, until it came to action, 

Rhodes went into the house, took 'Little Beit' aside and told 
him about the 'biggest game of bluff that was ever played'. In the 
meantime the Imperial Secretary, Sir Graham Bower, for whom 
he had sent, had arrived and Rhodes told him: 

'You will be glad to hear that the revolution at Johannesburg 
has fizzled out like a damp squib.' Rhodes took him into the 
garden and unburdened his heart, telling him, much to Bower's 
surprise, that he had financed and organized the revolution. He 
ended with a sigh: 

'Well, I am still a rich man, and can spend the balance of my 
money in developing the North.* 

Dr Rutherford Harris was having a late breakfast at Three 
Anchor Bay, a suburb of Cape Town, when he heard the Sunday 
morning quietness disturbed by the noise of rapidly trotting 
horses. While the cab was still moving, out jumped Stevens, the 
clerk of the local office of the Chartered Company. When he had 
arrived for duty he had found two urgent telegrams from Pitsani 
which he had quickly decoded and because of their importance 

[284] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

tie had brought them out to Harris Immediately. Harris hurried 
to Groote Schuur. 

Lunch had just been served. When they saw his pale face and 
were told that two telegrams had arrived from Dr Jameson, 
Rhodes, Beit, Leonard and Thompson got up immediately and 
left together with Dr Harris for the privacy of Rhodes* bedroom. 
The one telegram was dated Saturday 28 at 5 p.m. and said that 
*. . . unless I hear definitely to the contrary, shall leave tomorrow 
evening , . .* Without waiting for a reply Jameson had sent 
another telegram to Cape Town on Sunday morning at nine 
o'clock announcing: 'Shall leave tonight for the Transvaal/ 

Rhodes sat on the edge of his bed. His face turned ashen and 
seemed suddenly haggard. After a long pause he jumped up and 
began to pace up and down the small room, repeating over and 
over again: 'Now just be cooL Let's think this thing out. Now 

just be cool. Let's think this * After a while he stopped his 

pacing. Turning to Thompson, he said: *Look, Thompson, look 
what that damn fool Jameson has donet Why did he do it? Tell 
me, Thompson, why did he do it?' His voice cracked and again 
and again he shrieked: c Why did he do it? Why? . . .' 

Beit sat shrunken into himself and appeared smaller than ever. 
He tore vehemently at his moustache, his other hand holding 
tightly a bottle of headache tablets from which he took one from 
time to time. 

It took several hours until Rhodes had made up his mind. In 
the afternoon he wired to Pitsani: 

Heartily reciprocate your wishes with regard to Protectorate, but 
the Colonial Office machinery moves slowly, as you know. We are, 
however, doing our utmost to get immediate transference of what 
we are justly entitled to. Things in Johannesburg I yet hope to see 
amicably settled, and a little patience and common sense is only 
necessary. On no account whatever must you move. I strongly 
object to such a course. 

Unfortunately the line to Pitsani was dead. The telegram never 
left the Cape Town post office. To the meaning of the first two 
sentences no clue has ever been found. Rhodes, though he could 
have used this message to prove that he had made every effort up 
to the last minute to stop Dr Jameson and thus exonerate himself 
from the blame of having been largely instrumental in the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Jameson Raid, never ad so because he ad not want Ms friend 
to bear the whole brunt of accusation. This noble and unselfish 
attitude of Rhodes' showed throughout the whole affair, the only 
pleasant and agreeable feature in a cobweb of intrigues, lies, 
perjuries and blackmail. 

Towards evening Schreiner, the Attorney-General in Rhodes' 
Cabinet, came to see Rhodes. Like his other colleagues Schreiner, 
a staunch friend, an almost loving admirer and a devoted foEower, 
knew nothing of Rhodes' association with the Johannesburg 
conspiracy. But having heard rumours, he thought it best to tax 
Rhodes with it arectly. He saw him only for a few minutes. 
Schreiner asked: 'Have you seen Charlie Leonard?' 

"Yes/ replied Rhodes, trying to sound nonchalant, *I have seen 

him/ 

Tor goodness' sake/ Schreiner said, and put great emphasis on 
his words to express his serious concern, *keep yourself clear from 
that entanglement at Johannesburg. If there is any asturbance, 
they are sure to try and mix you up with it.* 

Rhodes shrugged his shoulders and stood up, saying: 'Oh! 
That's all rightl That's all right all right. Good nightt 7 

At eleven o'clock on Sunday night the Imperial Secretary, 
Sir Graham Bower, was asturbed in his slumbers by Rhodes* 
servant with a message that his master was anxious to speak to 
him at once. Bower was amazed to find Rhodes a crushed man, 
who told him: "Jameson has gone into the Transvaal. Here is a 

telegram IVe sent to stop him, and it may yet come all right 

I'll resign tomorrow, but I know what this means. It means war. 
I'm a ruined man, but there must be no recriminations. I will take 
the blame/ 

No one found much sleep that night. 

While the people in Cape Town were enjoying themselves on 
the beaches to escape the heat of the day the churches in Johannes- 
burg were overcrowded. And while from a pulpit a clergyman 
was advocating the Uitknder cause by fulminating against bluster 
and funk, 180 miles away an abhorrent act against international 
law, against human rights and common sense was being committed. 

The Honourable Leander Starr Jameson, M.D., Companion of 
the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and Administrator of 
Rhodesia, was very bored in the camp at Pitsani. One could not 

[286] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

play poker all day long. The company around Mm got on Ms 
nerves: these young officers could talk of nothing but women, 
racing and society gossip. 

In his boredom he began to 'read. When he had returned from 
his skirmish with the Portuguese in Manicaland many people 
flattered him by comparing him with dive. He took Macauky*s 
Life of C/m out of his kit and began to fly through the pages, 
Since his 'filibustering expedition*, as his invasion of Manicaland 
had been called in Parliament, and his extermination of the 
Matabele impis by machine-guns, Rhodes had considered him* 
and he had been inclined to agree, as a military genius of the rank 
of a Marlborough, Wellington, Napoleon or Moltke. Macaulay 
now confirmed to him that the comparison between him and 
dive had been well chosen. Suddenly he banged his fists on the 
table and to the astonishment of his companions he almost shouted: 

* Well, you may say what you like, but Clive would have done It.* 

He also remembered what Rhodes had once told a young 
officer in Uganda whom he reproached for having followed 
instructions too closely: 

*You cannot expect a Prime Minister to write down that you 
are to seize ports, etc. But, when he gives you orders to the 
contrary, disobey them/ 

He thought that he now understood Rhodes' orders not to 
move. He assembled his men on parade at 3 p.m. and told them 
that although he could not force them to go with him to the aid 
of Johannesburg he expected them to come as volunteers. He 
took from his pocket a letter dated 20 December and signed by 
members of the Reform Committee which told of the critical 
situation in Johannesburg: 

. . . Not to go into detail, we may say that the Government has 
called into existence all the elements necessary for armed conflict. . . . 

What we have to consider is, what will be the condition of things 
here in the event of conflict? 

Thousands of unarmed men, women and children of our race will 

be at the mercy of well-armed Boers We cannot contemplate the 

future without the gravest apprehension. . . * 

It is under these circumstances that we feel constrained to call 
upon you to come to our aid , . . and we cannot but believe that 
you, and the men under you, will not fail to come to the rescue of 
people who would be so situated. . . , 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

At first Dr Jameson's appeal had only a lukewarm reception, 
but when he read the passage about the plight of thousands of 
women and children there was a stir among the soldiers. None of 
these simple mercenaries could have guessed that the use of the 
'Letter of Invitation* was a bluff. This letter had been written 
several weeks before as a draft by Charles Leonard to be sent to 
Dr Jameson as soon as the revolution began* When the con- 
spiracy was postponed or rather had 'fizzled out like a damp 
squib', Leonard had asked Dr Jameson to return the letter. 
Casually Jameson had replied: 'Oh 5 that letter. Why? Awfully 
sorry, old man, but it has gone down to Cape Town by the last 
train/ 

Now, on this Saturday afternoon, Jameson had forged the date 
to read 20 December. 

Similarly he deceived his officers. He had told them in private 
conversations that the expedition was 'in the service of the 
Queen*, that the whole scheme was known to and approved of 
by the authorities and that especially 'Chamberlain was in it up 
to the neck'. Those officers who were still in doubt about the 
legality of the expedition were soothed by Jameson and the rest 
with the words: 'Never mind, you won't be left!' with a wink 
which was meant as a reference to Rhodes. 

At five o'clock Dr Jameson sent the previously mentioned tele- 
gram that he was leaving 'unless he heard definitely to the contrary'. 

The canteens were opened for free drinks and towards evening 
everyone was in a more or less alcoholic state. When Dr Jameson 
gave orders for the telegraph wires to be cut ('secure Telegraph 
Office silence') some of his men were so drunk that they cut 
instead about 100 yards of barbed-wire fencing, as a result of 
which the line to Pretoria was not interrupted. Thus it happened 
that the Transvaal Government knew about the events at Pitsani 
earlier than did the High Commissioner in Cape Town. 

On Monday morning, 30 December at 5.30, Dr Jameson 
crossed the Transvaal border with only 512 mounted men 
instead of the 1,500 promised to the Reformers 30 pack-horses, 
8 machine-guns, i twelve^and-a-half-pounder and z seven- 
pounders, all under the military command of the old filibuster, Sir 
John Willoughby. One invalided officer accompanied the column 
in a dog-cart as he 'wanted not to miss the fun*. Among the 
troopers, apart from the well-trained former Bechuanaland Police 

[288] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

volunteers,, were many most unmilitary characters picked up by 
Dr Harris in Cape Town, men who had never so much as sat on 
a horse or handled a gun. Unaccustomed to drinks like cham- 
pagne, whisky and liqueur, many fell from thek horses and quite 
a number deserted. On the road from Pitsani to the Transvaal 
there were found the next day rifles,, ammunition, haversacks, 
bandoliers and even saddles. 

The next day Major Heany, bringing Rhodes* message to stop 
Jameson, caught up with the raiders. Jameson walked up and 
down for about twenty minutes. When he returned the following 
dialogue took place: 

'I am going! 3 

"Thought you would/ 

* And what are you going to do?' 

'Going with you/ 

'Thought you would/ 

Jameson was the only one in 'civvies', wearing a 'teraf hat with 
a dented crown and a light-fawn dust-coat. He must have felt 
more like Napoleon than Clive, perhaps even like Caesar crossing 
the Rubicon and sighing: 'The die is cast/ But it seems more 
probable that Jameson did not think at all. Habitual gamblers for 
high stakes never think of consequences. 

Jameson's self-aggrandisement had deteriorated into an amoral, 
anarchistic, superman consciousness. 'The ten Commandments 
are out of date!' he once told Stead, And another time: 

'Why morals or religion should have anything to say in political 
questions I fail to see. . . . What difference can it make in a man 
as a legislator what his morals are if he has genius and intellect 
and can use them?* 

Unfortunately Dr Jameson believed himself to be a man of 
genius and was determined to use it 'in the public interest of his 
country' for the 'Caesarian Operation* he was about to perform. 

On Monday, 30 December, Rhodes was up early and left the 
house on horseback, accompanied by Toni. Messengers were sent 
out and many callers came, but he was nowhere to be found. 
Bower, Schreiner, Hofmeyr and especially Sir Hercules Robinson 
were anxious to see him. Rhodes avoided them purposely. He 
was waiting for further developments: perhaps that Jameson had 
been stopped in the meanwhile; perhaps that the fire of revolution 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

had been relit la Johannesburg; or perhaps that the Imperial 
Factor* would step In and come to the aid of the Ultianders? He 
wanted to gain time. 

A formal letter from Bower was left in his house: 

I have called several times at your office this morning for the 
purpose of conveying to you His Excellency's instructions for the 

immediate recall of Dr Jameson. . . , 

to which Rhodes scribbled a very informal reply: 

My dear Bower, 

Jameson has gone in without my authority, I hope one message 
may have stopped him. I am sorry to have missed you. 

Something had to be done. By now Jameson's invasion of the 
Transvaal would have become public knowledge, even if he had 
been stopped. Too much was at stake: the Charter, the Goldfields, 
his Premiership, his P.C., his fortune, his future and the future 
of his Mreams'. Something had to be done. 

Schreiner, the most faithful of his followers, had called several 
times while Rhodes was hiding in the mountains. He had at first 
been unwilling to believe the reports from the local police. He 
had wired back asking for confirmation of the 'agitated telegram'. 
To his consternation he had to accept the fact that Dr Jameson 
had indeed committed this outrage and that probably Rhodes. . . . 
So strong was still his belief in Rhodes that he could not imagine 
that Rhodes, his friend Rhodes, could have committed such perfidy. 

Late at night Rhodes asked Schreiner to come and see him. 
When Schreinei: entered the library Rhodes, his hair dishevelled, 
his eyes bloodshot, his face greyish-green and haggard, was 
staring into space. Schreiner knew that here was *a man he had 
never seen before: utterly dejected and different in appearance 
. * absolutely broken down in spirit, ruined*. 

Without any introduction Rhodes cried out: 

*Yes, yes, it is true yes, yes, it's true it's true: old Jameson 

has upset my applecart. It is all true Poor old Jameson. 

Twenty years we have been friends, and now he goes in and ruins 

me. I cannot hinder him. I cannot go and destroy him Go 

and write out your resignation Go, I know you will/ 

Schreiner replied: 'It is not a question of my writing out my 
resignation/ 

[290] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

For many hoots the two men talked. As Schreitier walked over 
the lawns and saw In the moonlight the majestic buttresses of 
Table Mountain he remembered a scene on the stoep of Groote 
Schuur when Rhodes had said, pointing to the mountain: 

*In a few years you and I will be gone > and other little ants will 
be running about the foot of the mountain. If you think of that 
you can't worry/ 

Now the great man, the 'Colossus', was broken down 

Schreiner stopped. A thought, a sudden ugly and terrible suspi- 
cion struck him* He wanted to suppress it. What if Rhodes was 

only acting a part? No, he was really broken down, and he 

was not the man to play that part If he did, he was the best 

actor 

And Schreiner in that hour felt 'what hundreds of people are 
feeling in South Africa today; they have lost their leader. Yes, 
they have lost him absolutely, a leader who cemented around him 
such loyalty and devotion. . . / 

Will Schreiner, a lovable character highly intelligent, a great 
scholar, a splendid lawyer, an honest and captivating parliamen- 
tarian was of German parentage. He possessed a romantic sense 
which even the dryness of Roman Law, the sobering atmosphere 
of Cambridge's stuffy lecture-rooms or the freezing traditionalism 
of London's Inns of Court had been unable to kill, and he needed 
a man like Rhodes *a man of action* to develop his paradoxical 
endowments. He loved Rhodes; he admired him; he acknowledged 
his superiority. 

And Rhodes, unsentimental in spite of Ms occasional romanti- 
cism, recognized the value of, and also felt flattered by, the 
younger man's devotional admiration. Schreiner could not be 
bought: 'the obstinate fellow*, Rhodes had called him when he 
insisted on paying his own election expenses. 

Rhodes had pkyed on Schreiner's sentiments with great 
virtuosity, knowing that the only way he could 'square* 'the 
obstinate fellow* was by affection. Just a year before, after 
Rhodes* nomination as P.C, he had written to Schreiner: 

I am just going up the Acropolis. I wished to say to you, how 
pleased I am we have come together and are at last getting to know 
one another. We may do much if we do not weary of each other and 
the work. Do not think this claptrap; it comes from my innermost 
thought. Read and tear up. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

With a man of Rhodes* unsentimental make-up this letter, a 
unique product of his pen, should be taken as almost a declaration 
of love. Rhodes' affection for Schreiner was sincere. That very 
Sunday, in the afternoon when he still denied his implication in 
the Johannesburg conspiracy, Rhodes had written to Schreiner's 
mother in Grahamstown: 

My dear Madam, Your son says you would like to have my 
photograph. It is pleasant to think you have a thought for me. 
I send it you and ask you to remember that I have tried always to 
do my best for the country of my adoption. The future has trouble 
in store but time will right everything, for it is only time that tells 
the truth. You wonder why I write you so openly. The reason is 
that I am very fond of your son. He is to me the most straightforward 
and honourable man that I have ever met and I know he must owe 
a great deal to his Mother. Put my letter away and do not let him 
know how I have written, but the words will be pleasant to you as 
his Mother and they are from my heart. . . . 

Schreiner's heart was sore when he found in the soul of his 
friend instead of the expected gold nothing but sham. He had 
lost more than a friend. As a result of the perfidy of this man he 
saw smashed to pieces the cherished dream of racial peace, the 
hope of a united South Africa, the vision of Africa's golden 
future. 

Another old friend, Merriman, also turned his back on Rhodes 
in disgust, though he had himself been in sympathy with the 
Reform Movement. 'The Raid*, Merriman said later, *was not 
only wrong in its inception, but it is the deceit and treachery 
which accompanied it that I object to; and the Raid has put 
Mr Kruger into his old position and rehabilitated him in the 
civilized world: that is the pity of it, and for that we have to 
thank Mr Rhodes ... I do say, Mr Rhodes is unworthy of the 
trust of the country!' 

Even Rhodes* faithful mouthpiece, young Garrett of the Cape 
Times, was shocked. The 'Colossus', with a forced smile, tried 
to joke: 

'Well, there is a little history being made; that is all/ 

The last day of the year, Tuesday, 31 December, also saw 
Rhodes* separation from another friend. As on the previous day, 
Rhodes had hidden from the world in order to avoid being forced 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

into action. To win time was all he wanted so as to give Dr 
Jameson a chance to fi finish his job 5 . For that reason, too, he did 
not resign. As long as he was still Prime Minister he might be 
able to help lift Ms upset 'applecart*. Until the very last minute 
Rhodes hoped for Jameson's success. 

In the morning a Cabinet meeting was held. After about forty- 
five minutes of discussing current affairs, Rhodes left so that *the 
others may talk freely 5 . The Ministers agreed that they would 
have to hand in their resignation to Rhodes. Schreiner declared 
that he would leave the Ministry the minute blood was shed. 

Bower came into Schreiner's room to obtain the Cabinet's 
consent for a proclamation to the inhabitants of Johannesburg 
by which the High Commissioner, on behalf of the British 
Government, repudiated Dr Jameson's action. It had been 
suggested and drafted by Hofmeyr. 

This proclamation, as was kter proved, at least averted civil 
war in the Transvaal and a consequent war between Britain and 
the Boers. Unfortunately its effect was weakened by Garrett, who 
had helped in editing the final text. Before the proclamation was 
published in Johannesburg he wired to his colleague on the 
Johannesburg Star not to misunderstand this official pronounce- 
ment 'putting Jameson formally in the wrong*, as the Imperial 
authorities had no other way out. He ended with the wish and 
the hope: 'Don't let this weaken ot divide you/ As a result, the 
Reformers in Johannesburg assumed that the British Government 
really approved of Dr Jameson's march into the Transvaal and 
pretended only officially to be against it. 

All these events came as a bolt out of the blue to Hofmeyr. He 
expected Rhodes not only to resign but to repudiate openly and 
clearly Dr Jameson's action. Rhodes' immediate resignation or 
dismissal had also been expected in Pretoria. The mood of men 
in high positions was expressed in a telegram to Hofmeyr from 
a judge: 

Has the moment not arrived for High Commissioner to dismiss 
Rhodes and keep him in custody, so as to prevent more mischief 
in Chartered Company? 

Hofmeyr, when he learnt of the Raid, had telegraphed to 
Kruger: *I hope your burghers will acquit themselves like heroes 
against Jameson's filibusters.* 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

This telegram proclaimed to Kmger as well as to the British 
authorities the definite identification of Hofmeyr and the Bond 
with Kruger's defence of his rights, his condemnation of Jameson 
and the severance of political co-operation between the Afrikaners 
of the Cape and Rhodes. Hofmeyr felt that Rhodes* and Jameson's 
folly 'threw back the cause of civilization in South Africa for 25 
years'. His first words on hearing the news were: *If Rhodes is 
behind it, then he is no more a friend of mine/ 

Now, on Tuesday afternoon, he had to settle the final account 
with his former friend. They met in Bower's room in Government 
House. Hofmeyr began the interview: 

*You will not pretend to me that you have mixed yourself up 
with this outrage from an overwhelming sympathy with the poor, 
down-trodden working men who are now drawing big wages on 
the Rand?' 

Rhodes, not accustomed to such sarcasm, least of all from 
Hofmeyr, replied, downcast: 

*No, I shall not pretend/ 

Rhodes declared that he would resign, to which Hofmeyr 
replied: 

'Rhodes, mere resignation will not clear you. . . . Issue a 
proclamation or manifesto as fast as it can be printed, repudiating 
Jameson's move, instantly dismissing or suspending him as 
Administrator of Rhodesia, and providing that the criminal law 
will be enforced to the utmost against him.' 

'It's making an outlaw of the doctor making an outlaw of 

the doctor Well, you see, Jameson has been such an old 

friend such an old friend Of course, I cannot do it cannot 

do it cannot do it/ 

Hofmeyr replied very softly: 

'Quite, quite I understand r- That's quite enough You 

need say no more/ 

Hofmeyr was a sick man, suffering from a weak heart. His 
nerves were frayed by the excitement. And he really loved 
Rhodes. He turned away and busied himself with cleaning his 
eye-glasses. Turi|ing again towards Rhodes, he said: 

*I could explain better if you had ever been married. I have not 
yet forgotten the relation of perfect trust and intimacy which a 
man has with his wife. We have often disagreed, you and I, but 
I would not have thought of our distrusting each other in any 

[294] 



THE UPSET APPLECART 

joint undertaking. So it was till now; and now you have let me go 
on being apparently intimate while you knew that this was 
preparing and said nothing/ 

And so they parted. Returning home in his carriage, Rhodes 
told Dr Harris about the conversation. So as to conceal how 
deeply he had been touched, he joked in his usual way: *And 
you'll see how old Hofmeyr will slobber at my funeral slobber 

at my funeral slobber * Even stupid Dr Harris looked at 

his chief in consternation when the usual shrill staccato chuckling 
started and would not stop. Almost suffocating, Rhodes tried to 

repeat between shouts of laughter: 'Slobber at my funeral * 

When he had recovered from this hysterical attack he said: *I am 
no longer pulled two ways; Jameson has decided me/ 

Hofmeyr, sitting on his stoep that evening, was still quieter than 
usual* When he told some friends about the interview he ended 
by saving: 

*I had the feeling as if my wife had deceived me with my 
best friend. . , . Rhodes imagines himself a young king, the equal 
of the Almighty perhaps a Clive and Warren Hastings rolled 
into oneP 



[93] 



CHAPTER XV 

A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN, Her Majesty's Secretary of 
State for the Colonies, stood in front of a large mirror in 
the dressing-room of his house, Highbury. He always spent con- 
siderable time over his toilet. In public he appeared mostly in 
formal morning-coat and striped trousers, and invariably with 
an exquisite specimen of an orchid in his buttonhole. Europe's 
largest and most expensive collection of orchids was reared in 
his hot-houses at Highbury, the upkeep of which and the purchase 
of ever new additions from aU parts of the tropical world 
swallowed, it was said, an amount exceeding his ministerial 
salary. 

Chamberlain never forgot a slight, least of all when it touched 
his craze for orchids. Gossip-mongers' had taken delight in 
reporting to him Rhodes* frequent squib: 

'Some people spend their time in growing orchids, others spend 
their time in making empires/ 

It was also reported to Chamberlain that Kruger, when shown 
a picture of him with his monocle in his eye and a large orchid in 
his buttonhole, had shaken his head and said: 

'What foolishness for a man to give so much money for so 
small a thing! And then he can only see half of that for he has 
only one eyel' 

These remarks contributed towards Chamberlain's dislike of 
the two men, yet both of them were to become instrumental in 
the fulfilment of his dreams of a lifetime: to make the world feel 
the power of Joseph Chamberlain from Birmingham* 

Chamberlain had never shown scruples in choosing the means 
towards his goal. He was as unscrupulous in his political life as 
he had been in his business methods, changing sides whenever it 
seemed opportune and sacrificing his greatest friends. Labouchere, 
who had once been his friend, said of him: ' Judas compared with 
Chamberlain was a most respectable character.' The nickname 
'Judas' remained with him. 

[296] 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

By June 18955 when Lord Salisbury had offered him a seat In 
his Cabinet, the "Birmingham Ironmonger* had become a con- 
siderable factor in Tory politics. Forgotten was Ms revolutionary, 
his Radical, his Liberal, his Free Trade and his 'Little Bnglander* 
past, * Judas' had become jWkr royal qm k rot. 

The time was ripe for a man of Chamberlain y s uncompromising 
chauvinism and imperialism. A tidal wave of Jingoism at the 
last elections had drowned the old Liberal thought and had 
almost swept the Liberal Party out of existence. The mind of 
the English public was no longer open to reason. They now had 
new prophets who would bring them salvation: Cecil Rhodes, 
Barney Barnato and Whitaker Wright; J. B. Robinson, Abey 
Bailey and Alfred Beit. Devoutly they looked towards the Stock 
Exchange, 

Politicians were astonished at Chamberlain's appointment 
as Colonial Secretary. He had been offered the War Office, 
but insisted on taking over the Colonial portfolio because 
he foresaw that it would have to become the centre of gravity 
in Britain's foreign policy. Chamberlain became the driving 
force of English politics. From the Colonial Office he set out 
to open up a new era of British Weltpolitik. In his electioneering 
speeches he had made it clear that his imperialism was not 
restricted to empty phrases, and that in Africa particularly 
Britain would brook no attempts to dispute her superior 
position. 

The Liberals feared the worst: a renegade from their own ranks, 
he was; a man who only eleven years ago had fought tooth and 
nail against the annexation of the Transvaal, And an apostate, 
history had taught them, will go to any length to make people 
forget his past. 

Rhodes received the news of Chamberlain's appointment *with 
horror*. For Rhodes, Chamberlain signified the incarnation of the 
Imperial Factor*. And Chamberlain would not be as easy to 
handle as had been his noble predecessors. 

Rhodes opened the relations with a formal letter: 

I am glad you have taken the Colonial Office even if you differ 
with me as to my part of the world. I know full well you will always 
come to a decision and before your assumption of office the difficulty 
was to get anything decided whether yes or no. . . . 

[*97] 



RHOBES OF AFRICA 

Chambcrkin answered in cool tones with a few generalities: 

... As far as I understand your main Mnes of policy I believe that 
I am in general agreement with you, and if we ever differ on points 
of detail I hope as sensible men of business we shall be able to give 
and take* and so come to an understanding. . . . 

In actual fact each man was afraid of the other. Chamberlain 
realized that if he wanted to succeed in his policy in Africa he 
would have to co-operate with Rhodes, the 'uncrowned Emperor 
of South Africa'. Rhodes was not only a very considerable politi- 
cal factor in African politics, but, as- a result of his financial and 
social infiltration into all parties and even into the highest circles 
at home, he would be able to make his weight felt in the British 
Parliament. 

It took a man of Chamberlain's political instinct only a few 
weeks to be transformed from a bombastic demagogue into a 
creative statesman. He transferred his turbulent ambitions to 
external political issues as soon as he had been initiated into the 
secrets and aims of Britain's traditional Colonial policy, as handled 
by the Permanent Secretaries who always kept themselves inde- 
pendent of changing party politics. He learnt that, since the Suez 
Canal could easily be blocked in the event of war, the security of 
the sea-route to India depended upon keeping a firm grip on the 
Cape and securing its hinterland as well. The Dutch element in 
the Cape had therefore to be humoured. In order to defend this 
'Gibraltar of the two Oceans' against German, French and 
Belgian surprises from the rear, it was essential to keep the back 
doors to South Africa well guarded by means of a ring of colonial 
possessions which would at the same time protect the rear of the 
Sudan and the entry into Egypt against intruders. 

England's position, as the undisputed financier of the world, 
was dependent on the gold-mines of the Rand which were 
producing already a quarter of the world's entire output, with 
ever-increasing yields. As long as Britain controlled the gold of 
the world she would play a decisive role in all world affairs. Thus 
in order to fortify her position in the world, the pending issues 
in Africa would first have to be cleared up. For that reason the 
gold-fields of die Rand which were for the greater part owned by 
British companies, financed by British investors, and worked by 
British experts and workmen would have to be brought under the 

[298] 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

Union Jack. And the Boer Government at Pretoria would have 
to be removed, by fair means or foul, before the Germans could 
forestall Britain by a sudden blow from their impulsive Kaiser. 

Chamberlain's eyes had been opened by a speech delivered to 
the German Club in Pretoria by President Kruger on the occasion 
of the Kaiser's birthday banquet held in January of that year* 1895: 

... I always thought before [1884] that our Republic was regarded 
as a child amongst other countries, but the Kaiser received me as 
the representative of a grown-up Republic ... I know I may count 
on the Germans in future ... I feel certain when the time comes 
for the Republic to wear still larger clothes, you will have done much 
to bring it about, . . . The time is coming for our friendship to be 
more firmly established than ever. 

It became dear to Chamberlain that fast action in the Transvaal 
was imperative. He had already shown his willingness to go to 
war against the Transvaal when Kruger had closed the drifts. 
But Kruger in his wisdom had not done him the favour of giving 
cause for war. 

Chamberlain had also learnt that according to tradition the 
Colonial Office welcomed and encouraged men like Rhodes and 
did not mind their making huge profits as long as they proved 
themselves useful by doing all the dirty work which the Govern- 
ment itself could not handle for reasons of foreign policy or 
because of the 'negrophil cranks'. 

From the files Chamberlain learnt further that already as far 
back as 1 893 his predecessor, on the recommendation of Sir Henry 
Loch, had sanctioned a revolution by the UManders against the 
Kruger regime with the ultimate aim of bringing the Transvaal 
under the Union Jack. In 1894, when a disturbance occurred in 
Johannesburg during a visit of the High Commissioner to 
Pretoria to confer with Kruger about the commandeering of 
Uitlanders for commandos against the Natives, Loch had kept 
the Bechuanaland Police in readiness on the Transvaal border to 
move into Johannesburg at a moment's notice. 
* His predecessor, Lord Kipon, Chamberlain found, had received 
confidential information from the High Commissioner in June 
1894 about a conversation in Pretoria between Loch and Lionel 
Phillips. The contents of this astonishing interview became general 

[199] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

knowledge In Rhodes* camp through a letter to 'dear Belt 5 from 
Phillips, his junior partner; 

Sir Henry Loch . . . asked me some very pointed questions, such 
as what arms were already in Johannesburg, whether the population 
could hold the place for six days until help could arrive etc. and 
stated further, that, if there had been 3,000 rifles and ammunition 
here, he would certainly have come over. He further informed me 
in a significant way that they had prolonged the Swazi Agreement 
[with the Transvaal] for 6 months and said he supposed in that time 
Johannesburg would be better prepared as much as to say, if things 
are safer., then we shall actively intervene. 

Lord Ripon had reported to the Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery, 
in September 1894: 

We might make war on the Boers ... or we might play off the 
British element . . . against the Boer element and give the Boer 
Government thereby a lot of trouble. To go to war with the Boers 
... I hold to be out of the question. It would be very costly, it 
would require a large force. . . . 

To press our complaints against the Transvaal on account of their 
treatment of British subjects and support the latter in their claims 
would be a course having in it more elements of ultimate success 
than may at first appear, but would be, no doubt, uncertain in its 
effects and would be represented as mean and cowardly . . . for which 
last I for one should not care. 

As a result of his discoveries. Chamberlain was satisfied that 
his Liberal predecessors had acted or would have acted exactly as 
tie was going to act and thus, no matter what he chose to do in 
the Transvaal, the Liberals would have to give their consent. 

Shortly after Chamberlain had been established in the Colonial 
Office Rhodes had charged Dr Rutherford Harris with the task 
of sounding the new man. Chamberlain, suspicious of everything 
coming from Rhodes, asked his collaborators, Lord Selborne, the 
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, and the two Permanent 
Under-Secretaries, Sir Robert Meade and Mr E. Fairfield, to be 
present at the interview. Dr Harris was introduced by Earl Grey, 
one of the directors of the Chartered Company and a personal 
friend of both Chamberlain and Rhodes. 

It is not known whether Dr Harris had, as was his habit, taken 
rather more liquor with his lunch than was good for him. At any 

[3 3 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

rate, he was very loquacious and in the course of his tirades he 
referred in confidence to the unrest at Johannesburg by 
making what he later called 'guarded allusions to the desirability 
of there being a police force near the border*. He said something 
like: c We shall be here [on the border] and if a rising takes place 
in Johannesburg, of course we could not stand by and see them 
tightly pressed, . . .' 

Chamberlain's coolness sank to an arctic temperature when he 
interrupted the doctors jabbering: 

'I am here in an official capacity. I can only hear information 
of which I can make official use/ 

He put the doctor off by adding that he had full confidence 
in the High Commissioner to do the right thing at the right time. 

The cool reception which he had received at the Colonial Office 
did not prevent Dr Harris from cabling to Rhodes fantastic 
reports, from which Rhodes must have gained the impression 
that Chamberlain had sanctioned all his plans. Yet the snub must 
have been strong enough even for Dr Harris to notice that 
Chamberlain was not willing to become an accessory to Rhodes' 
conspiracy. He therefore confided all further news of happenings 
in Johannesburg to Fairfield, a personal friend, knowing that it 
would finally reach Chamberlain's ears. Probably on Rhodes' 
instructions he also won over Flora Shaw, the editor of the 
Colonial Section of The Times. 

She was a valuable ally. At the Colonial Office, Flora Shaw was 
persona grata and held in high esteem for her thorough knowledge, 
her discretion and her reliability. Believing in Rhodes' 'mission*, 
she became his staunch admirer, ally and co-conspirator. When 
Dr Harris returned to South Africa she took over his duties of 
keeping Rhodes informed about happenings in the Colonial Office 
and of acting as Rhodes' go-between with Chamberlain. She gave 
her help for no reason other than her conviction that the Uit- 
landers' cause was right and that Kruger and his Boer Govern- 
ment formed a disturbing element for the peace and further 
development of South Africa. Even in the planned Raid she could 
see nothing wrong. She gave the foreign correspondents of The 
Times a memorandum with the necessary advance c dope', so that 
they would fall into line when the event came off. 

She had recently interviewed Dr Leyds, Kruger's State Secre- 
tary, who, on the pretext of 'seeing a throat specialist', had spent 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

several weeks in Berlin. She had learnt that all the non-official 
Germans whom the Transvaal Secretary had met had assured him 
that "he might rely on German help if England interfered on 
behalf of the BItianders. . . .* She also drew the attention of the 
Colonial Office to an article published in the Gaulois which warned 
that 'whatever happens in the Transvaal nothing can be allowed 
to take place to the benefit of England'. How serious was the 
view taken by the military authorities was shown by the fact that 
the War Office was planning to direct a second troopship to 
Cape Town. 

The situation was rapidly mounting to a climax. Fate could still 
be guided, however, if Chamberlain had a wish to do so. In his 
hands he held Britain's immediate future. Experts in the Colonial 
Office saw the implications of what threatened the country: 
already early in the year Germany had intimated to Rosebery that 
she claimed the right to support President Kruger. Krupp had 
received large orders from Pretoria for artillery guns, machine- 
guns and ammunition. German instructors were busy training the 
Transvaal artillery. 

The situation was so precarious that the Colonial Office con- 
sidered it necessary to prompt its chief by a letter, on 18 Decem- 
ber, that he 'may wish the Uitlander movement to be postponed 
for a year or so*. Besides the political reasons, another considera- 
tion was mentioned. *. . if it takes place there will probably be 
a "slump" in the South African mining market which . . . may 
produce a serious crisis in the City*. Britain's Colonial Office 
acting as the guardian angel of the Stock Exchange, its jobbers 
and punters! Chamberlain replied that the present time seemed 
to him more convenient for action since foreign intervention in 
South Africa was the more probable the longer the delay. 

A day later the Colonial Office informed its holidaying chief 
that Maguire, Rhodes* partner, had been informed accordingly 
and had replied that Johannesburg would begin to *move ? in 
about ten days (29 December) and that postponement for a year 
was impossible as * Johannesburg is so full of bad characters, for 
whom there is no legitimate employment, that nothing can be 
done to keep them quiet, except to set them fighting/ A solution 
of the unemployment problem by revolution! 

Maguire cabled to Rhodes the information which he had just 
received at the Colonial Office. The same statement and probably 

[302] - 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

with more details and reasons were given to Flora Shaw by 
Fairfieid, who did not know that she was now also acting as 
Rhodes* confidential agent in London. 

A week previously Flora Shaw had cabled to Rhodes: 

Delay dangerous; sympathy now complete, but will depend very 
much upon action before European powers give time to enter a 
protest which as European situation considered serious might 
paralyse Government: general feeling in the Stock Market very 
suspicious. 

After receiving Fairfield*s latest confidential comments she 
cabled to Rhodes on 20 December: 

Chamberlain is sound in case of interference of foreign powers, 
but have special reason to believe wishes you to do it immediately. 

When Rhodes received Harris* mendacious report about Ms 
interview with Chamberlain, and when he heard that Lord Grey 
had later given Chamberlain further details about Rhodes* plan, 
including the information about troops being assembled at the 
*jumping-ofF strip* at Pitsani, he could not but believe that the 
Colonial Secretary was *in it up to the neck*. 

What Chamberlain without experience in this kind of con- 
spiracy and also not yet used to intercourse with men reared on 
the moral morass of South Africa really believed was that a raid, 
not The Raid, was to take place .and that Rhodes* police-troops 
would march on Johannesburg only after the rising, so as to keep 
order on the Rand, and only after receiving orders from the High 
Commissioner, who would hurry to Johannesburg to act as 
arbitrator. Such was the information which Sir Hercules Robinson 
had given Chamberlain with a warning that *a fiasco would be 
most disastrous*, the same thought about a 'fyasco* which Rhodes 
had expressed at almost the same hour. 

When Chamberlain was dressing on that evening of Monday, 
30 ^December, he was not thinking of South African affairs* 
Robinson, in his ktest dispatch, had cabled that the movement 
had collapsed. And Chamberlain was not sorry. After dinner, 
however, there arrived a messenger from the Colonial Office, and 
it would have to be bad news with which they would worry him 
so kte at night. . . . 

[303] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

His face white and pearls of sweat on his forehead, Chamberlain 
sat in his study as though paralysed. On his desk lay the message 
that Jameson had invaded the Transvaal, but that the High 
Commissioner was still trying to stop him. *] this succeeds, it 
will ruin me, I am going up to London to crush it,' he told 
Ms wife. 

After a few hours 3 sleep he was at his desk and immediately he 
sent a cable to Sir Hercules Robinson instructing him to declare 
the Raid *an act of war, or rather of filibustering', to make it 
clear to Rhodes that if the Chartered Company were involved in 
this 'marauding action* he would withdraw the Charter and 
liquidate the Company, and for the rest approving of Robinson's 
measures in trying to stop Jameson. 

When Rhodes learnt of this cable he was at first speechless. 
Then he sent for his secretary: *Let us make a telegram to Flora 
Shaw 3 : 

Inform Chamberlain that I shall get through all right if he supports 
me but must not send cable like he sent to High Commissioner. 
Today the crux is, I will win and South Africa will belong to 
England. 

On Tuesday, 3 1 December, the entire English Press condemned 
Dr Jameson's Raid unanimously and hut led heavy accusations at 
Rhodes. 

The next day, the first day of the year 1 896, The Times published 
the 'Letter of Invitation* with its sobby reference to 'women and 
children* which Harris, on Rhodes' instructions, had cabled to 
Flora Shaw* This time the date of the letter was falsified to read 
28 December, the third time the date had been altered. Rhodes 
had counted on the Englishman's sentimental sympathy with 
women and children in distress. And he was right. Overnight 
Dr Jameson, the 'raiding filibuster', the 'mad law-breaker', the 
"foolish marauder', was turned into the gallant knight-errant, the 
chevalier sans reproche by the English Press. 

The attitude of the English public towards the whole issue of 
Jameson's Raid had changed. The Raid had come as a shock to 
the English people, but not a wholly unwelcome shock. For years 
the Jingoes had been drumming into their heads: 'Remember 
Majuba/ They had also seen to it that the Boers were depicted 

[34] 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

as hoary savages on the lowest level of civilization. It was there- 
fore not surprising that Dr Jameson was considered a hero by 
the masses. 

To his consternation Chamberlain found that with the rise in 
the Doctor's popularity his own prestige decreased. The Jingo 
papers turned against him, accusing him of lack of backbone in 
bending to old Kruger's will and leaving unarmed Englishmen 
at the mercy of the Boers 5 . 

Full of bitterness, Chamberlain complained in a letter to Ms 
wife that 'they have been waiting to jump on me', but at the same 
time he congratulated himself for having stood firm and separated 
himself from 'what was a disgraceful exhibition of filibustering*. 
He added that his messenger had met Jameson who had refused 
to obey the order to return. Sadly he concluded: *. . . so this is 
the end/ 

In the room next to that of the Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs on the first floor of an ugly grey building in the Wilhelm- 
strasse sat Friedrich August Baron von Holstein. It was no secret 
that since he had managed to eject the Bismarcks, father and son, 
from the grace of the young Kaiser and out of office, he was the 
supreme ruler over Germany's foreign politics, no matter who 
was the official head of the Atiswaerfige A.mt. Ambassadors, 
foreign ministers and his own superiors not only regarded him 
as a Machiavellian genius, but in personal dealings they were as 
afraid as first offenders before a judge. He looked more like a 
third-rate pensioned civil servant than a diplomat. He had no 
social ambitions or any interests other than to play his clever 
game on the chessboard of world politics. He never went to 
court; he never accepted invitations from anyone; he even 
declined the commands of the Kaiser for personal reports. During 
the last five years he had seen his imperial master only twice when 
the Emperor had come to his office. 

Bismarck had hated him, the 'man with the hyaena-eyes', and 
Holstein had fought against the Bismarckian system of upholding 
the European balance of power through the Triple Alliance, 
while having at the same time a reassurance pact with Russia. In 
Holstein's opinion this traditional German policy was outdated. 
He wanted to draw Britain into the orbit of German alliances. 

Germany's courtship of Britain found litde response in 

[305] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Whitehall. The Kaiser had thought In 1895 that with Salisbury 
at the head of a new Tory Government and simultaneously its 
Foreign Secretary, a German-British alliance was assured. When 
Salisbury gave the Kaiser the cold shoulder., Holstein maintained 
that the only way was to squeeze Britain into a tight corner 
somewhere and force her into an alliance. 

When the first news of the Raid reached Berlin on Tuesday, 
30 December^ Baron von Holstein rejoiced. Here he had Albion 
in just the tight corner for which he had always hoped. He drafted 
a Note to be handed to Salisbury by the German Ambassador to 
St James, Count Hatzfeldt, asking the British Prime Minister to 
repudiate Jameson's violation of Transvaal territory immediately. 
In the event of the British Government's declining to do so, 
Hatzfeldt was instructed to demand his passport. 

Thanks be to Providence for having established the good and 
healthy custom for Englishmen to take, whenever they can, a 
prolonged week-end holiday in the country. On New Year's Eve 
no responsible official was present at No. 10 Downing Street. 
Since the previous Saturday they had been indulging in their 
New Year celebrations. Hatsfeldt did not consider it etiquette to 
let such an important document lie there for several days and 
therefore took it home again, asking the Wilhelmstrasse for 
further instructions. In the meantime Holstein, the Kaiser and his 
Ministers had calmed down considerably. In the hang-over mood 
of New Year's Day, Hatzf eldt was instructed to destroy the ulti- 
matum Note and replace it by another, a more conciliatory verbal 
dmarche y stating that the German Government, because of the 
large German financial investments and industrial interests in the 
Transvaal, was anxious to have the status quo of the Republic 
maintained. This change of attitude was largely due to the refusal 
of the Portuguese Government to allow a contingent of fifty men 
of the German Marine Corps to pass through Delagoa Bay and 
to Kruger's refusal to let German troops enter his territory even 
to 'safeguard the German Consulate at Johannesburg'. Prince 
Hohenlohe, the seventy-seven-year-old German Chancellor who 
had had an interview with Dr Leyds only a few days before, 
warned the Kaiser: *Dr Leyds is a suspicious man; he detests the 
idea of a German protectorate as much as a British one!' Holstein 
therefore suggested that they wait for further developments in the 
Transvaal. 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

They did not have to wait long. On 2 January* at Krugersdorp, 
twenty miles west of Johannesburg, Dr Jameson surrendered to 
a superior Boer commando under General Cronje after heavy 
fighting during which Jameson lost twenty-seven men killed and 
thirty wounded. The Boers lost two men. In Johannesburg, 
according to the latest reports, everything was quiet. 

The next morning, 3 January, the Kaiser held a conference at 
the Chancellery. His shrill excited voice and quick manner of 
speaking indicated that the Almighty War Lord was in one of 
those dangerous moods that usually ended in some rash order 
being given with none having a chance to discuss or contradict. 

Almost shouting at them, the Kaiser announced that at last the 
hour had struck to bring Britain down on her knees by uniting 
the European Powers against her* He would take over the 
Protectorate of the Transvaal, for which purpose he intended to 
dispatch marines and troops to Africa. He had already ordered the 
cruiser Steadier to proceed to Delagoa Bay, 

Old Prince Hohenlohe or 'Uncle Chlodwig* as the Emperor 
called him usually fell asleep during such long tirades. This 
amazing proposition kept Mm wide awake, He was the only one 
who dared to interrupt the Kaiser. In the slow and quiet tones 
of an old man he asked: 

'Does Your Majesty realise that such a step would mean 
without any doubt war with England?* 

*Yes, but only on land!* 

Carefully Baron Marschall von Bieberstein tried to explain to 
the Kaiser the folly of military action, but he was not even allowed 
to finish his sentence. The Emperor had become even more 
agitated and was shouting, swearing and banging his fist on the 
table as he had not been seen to do since the day of Bismarck's 
dismissal. When he saw that even his naval advisors were not 
going to support him, he shouted angrily: *Go and call 
HolsteinF 

Holstein declined to come. He would rather resign than under- 
go the ordeal of wasting his time with 'that megalomaniac 
neurotic'. Besides, the matter did not concern his department at 
aU, but should be handled by the Colonial Office. In charge of 
the Colonial Office was an old Geheimrat, the prototype of the 
unimaginative German bureaucrat. Helplessly he tan over to 
Holstein and asked him for advice. Holstein had merely not 

[307] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

wanted to be drawn out of his anonymity and shoulder respon- 
sibilities; behind the scenes he was as usual quite willing to make 
the puppets dance according to his own tune. He refused to do 
anything before the other Great Powers were sounded. 

The old Gebdmrat suggested to Bieberstein that a telegram of 
congratulations should be sent to President Kruger* Bieberstein 
found the idea * colossal* 

The draft was brought to the Kaiser, who, upon hearing Prince 
Hohenlohe's and Bieberstein's opinions, agreed to sign it, after 
having deleted several offensive phrases: 

I tender you my sincere congratulations that, without appealing 
to the help of friendly Powers, you and your people have been 
successful in opposing with your own forces the armed bands which 
have broken into your country to disturb the peace, and in restoring 
order and maintaining the independence of your country against 

attacks from without. c . , _. 1 

Signed: Wilhelm, LR. 

In the last minute Bieberstein had corrected the draft, taking 
out the original phrase 'the dignity of your Government' and 
replacing it by 'the independence of your country*, in order to 
'make it more pungent** He should have known that the indepen- 
dence of the Transvaal was abolished by the Pretoria Convention 
of 1881. 

Admiral Knonr, somewhat hard of hearing, had not understood 
the telegram properly. When he read it he almost imploringly 
asked the Kaiser not to send it. The Kaiser, already at the door, 
asked Prince Hohenlohe to hold up the telegram until the matter 
could be discussed again. 'Sorry, Your Majesty, it is already 
gone/ was the r eply* 

When the Queen read the Kaiser's telegram to Kruger she 
remarked to Salisbury: 'Outrageous and very unfriendly towards 
us!' 

The next day she wrote a letter to the Kaiser which in its calm 
dignity and wise restraint presents an excellent example of her 
great statesmanship: 

My dear William, As your Grandmother to whom you have 
always shown so much affection and of whose example you have 
always spoken with so much respect, I feel I cannot refrain from 
expressing my deep regret at the telegram you sent President Kruger. 

[308] 



A LITTIE HISTORY BEING MADE 

It Is considered very unfriendly towards this country, which I feel 
sure It Is not Intended to be, and has, I grieve to say, made a very 
painful impression here. The action of Dr Jameson was of course 
very wrong and totally unwarranted; but considering trie very 
peculiar position in which the Transvaal stands towards Great 
Britain, I think it would have been far better to have said nothing. 
Our great wish has always been to keep on the best of terms with 
Germany, trying to act together, but I fear your Agents In the 
Colonies do the very reverse, which deeply grieves us. Let me hope 
that you will try and check this. . . . 

I hope you will take my remarks in good part, as they are entirely 
dictated by rny desire for your good. 1 

Upon receiving this letter the Kaiser immediately replied to his 
'Most beloved Grandmama*, giving the reasons for his action in 
pompous words and empty phrases. He'had acted, he said, c in the 
name of peace* which, 'following your glorious example*, he 
wanted *to maintain everywhere*. 'The men were acting in open 
disobedience to your orders,* he continued, referring to the 
declaration of the British Government and her Ambassador. 
'They were rebels. . . . Now to me, rebels against the will of her 
most gracious Majesty the Queen are the most execrable beings 
in the world, and I was so incensed at the idea of your orders 
having been disobeyed . . . that I thought it necessary to show 
that publicly, I challenge anybody who is a Gentleman to point 
out where there is anything hostile to England in this.* 

The damage had been done. There was more than one *Gende- 
man* whom the Kaiser could have challenged. All the newspapers, 
the whole English Nation one might say, stood up as one man 
against this German interference. The English Press fulminated 
against Germany and the Kaiser to such a degree that, on the 
advice of the Queen, Salisbury had to calm down public opinion* 
The German Ambassador saw the imminent danger of war and 
warned Berlin that 'British ministers must be guided in some 
measure by the voice of the people.* 

So as to show the Germans that he meant business, Salisbury 
mobilized a naval flying squadron to be sent to South Africa. The 
Wilhelmstrasse began to back out. 

From then onward Britain relinquished her 'splendid isolation* 
and entered the cauldron of European politics. She soon sought 

1 By permission from The Letters of Queen Victoria* published by John Murray, 

[309] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

to come to an understanding with France and Russia in order to 
repair the 'balance of power* on the Continent. 

On 2 January, Rhodes learnt of Jameson's ignominious 
surrender. The dreaded 'fiasco* had finally occurred. He would 
have to try to save what he could from the disaster* Both the 
Charter and his position as Privy Councillor were essential for 
his future, if there was to be a future at all. In the afternoon he 
wrote out his resignation as Prime Minister,. The document was 
scarcely completed when he felt that he had perhaps acted too 
rashly* Why should he resign and thus accept responsibility 
for the Raid? At any rate, the High Commissioner was ill and 
had asked him to continue until a new Government could be 
formed. 

On leaving Government House, Rhodes almost collapsed, but 
he still tried to give his friends the impression that nothing could 
touch him. When Rhodes found a new phrase he would use it 
ad nauseam at every opportunity. This time he repeated over and 
over again: * Well, there is a little history being made; that's all a 
little history being made. . . .* 

When he arrived home and saw the grey faces of his friends and 
collaborators, Rhodes shouted in a hoarse falsetto: 'Jameson, at 
any rate, tried to Jo something. All of you down here do nothing 
at all except jabber, jabber, jabberP 

With these words he rushed up the stairs and locked himself 
in his bedroom. In his hand he held a letter which contained 
Schreiner's resignation. 'Blood has been shed and the position 
I fill I can no longer hold under you,* he wrote, and ended with 
the words; e l have had no more bitter sorrow in my life, than 
my loss of you/ 

Rhodes crushed the letter and put it into his trouser-pocket, 
muttering: "Yes, I ought to have told Schreiner ... I should have 
told him. ... I was very fond of Schreiner. It was wrong. I ought 
to have told him. . . .* Toni was waiting for orders on the landing 
when he heard alarming tioises coming from his master's room. 
Were they deep sighs, cries of pain, or could it be that the baas 
was sobbing? It went on for a long time. The faithful servant was 
relieved when he heard his master's footsteps in the room. Rhodes 
called for whisky. When Toni was summoned again after some 
time, he saw that the bottle had been almost emptied. Rhodes 




Rondebosch. Groote Schuur, Rhodes' home near Cape Town 
From an old photograph 

Parliament House, Cape Town, with Table Mountain in the background 





Muizenberg. The cottage 
in \vhich Rhodes died 



The grave of Rhodes in 
the Matopo Hills 






A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

ordered his horse to be saddled and with Ms servant went up Into 
the mountains. For three days he tried to escape from himself, 
from his friends and from being forced to a decision. Late at 
night lie would slip into the house by a back door and lock 
himself immediately into Ms bedroom, where the servants would 
hear Mm roaming up and down without a break. In the morning 
before day-break he would ride away again into the mountains. 
He ate notMng except an occasional sandwich,, but drank, accord- 
ing to Toni, bottle after bottle of wMsky, though he showed no 
signs of being affected by the alcohol in any way. They rode from 
one place to another. Somewhere they would stop and Rhodes 
would sit on a rock for hours, Ms elbows resting on Ms knees, 
Ms head between Ms hands, brooding. It was thought afterwards 
that Rhodes was trying to gather enough 'Dutch courage 9 to 
commit suicide. Many of Ms intimates feared such a step. It seems 
more likely that he needed the alcohol to calm Ms nerves and to 
stimulate iMs heart, wMch must have suffered under the strain of 
the past weeks. 

Rhodes tried to persuade Mmself that Ms actions had been 
dictated by fear of German infiltration into the Transvaal, just as 
he had saved Bechuanaiand and the North from falling into 
German hands. But no one would swallow such a tale today, he 
told Mmself: 



'Nobody and nothing can defend me, for I am indefensible. I did 

not send Jameson over the border I would not have done 

anything so suicidal to the policy I had laboured all these years 

f or But one is morally culpable morally culpable. Why did 

I not make it my duty to know more, and take care to prevent 

Jameson going over the border? I am indefensible indefensible 

Now, I shall have to face the music! 

*We are in the trough of the wave; you have to tMnk of 

tomorrow If you only knew what was in front of you, you 

would never attempt a thing 

*But Jameson was very nearly a success. Of course, the proper 
course would have been for Jameson to have put his bag on the 

train and gone to the Johannesburg races Instead of arming 

that mob in Johannesburg a couple of hundred men could have 
gone to Pretoria with knobkerries and seized the President, members 
of the Raad and the Arsenal, and the whole thing would have been 
over * 

[3"] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

He tried to sleep in the shade of a tree where Tom had laid out 
a rug for him on the grass. After a few minutes he jumped up 
again. Rhodes had always been able to fall asleep immediately 
whenever he wished and had once boasted that if he was told on 
going to bed that all Cape Town was in flames he would fall 
asleep at once all the same and sleep right through the night. And 
now sleep would not come. The portraits of the Roman emperors 
in Ms library came to his mind: 

*They staked all their fortunes in one great battle and often lost. 
How they must have felt sitting in the midst of the stricken field 
when all their hopes had perished and everything had gone to 
rack and ruin. And yet the world has jogged along fairly well 
after all. . . . And in spite of whatever happens to us, the race 
moves on. . . .' 

It was Saturday night, the third day of Rhodes' flight into the 
mountains, and just a week since Jameson had 'taken the bit 
between his teeth and bolted off', just a week since he, the 
'Colossus', 'the uncrowned King of South Africa', 'the modern 
Midas', 'the Elizabethan Prodigy', had been hurled from the 
summit of his career into the depths of ignominy, the icy floods 
of contempt, the dirty morass of calumny. He hurried home. His 
loneliness pressed heavily upon him. 

He thirsted for the friendship of his old collaborators, the 
independent, straightforward companions of his political life, 
men like Hofmeyr, Schreiner and Merriman, who, as opposed to 
his intimate business associates, had never attempted to gain a 
personal advantage out of the friendship. As soon as he arrived 
at Groote^Schuur he called for his secretary. A bundle of telegrams 
was brought to him. Mechanically he opened a few, but dropped 
them on the floor without reading them. He took up again his 
nervous pacing of the room. The secretary wanted to retire dis- 
creetly. Rhodes stopped him, almost imploringly: 'Don't go away; 
stay here for a little while.' 

Interrupting the silence only by an occasional deep sigh, 
Rhodes walked from the window to the bathroom door, from one 
wall to another. He was bathed in sweat. Exhausted, he sank into 
the arm-chair at the window and kicked angrily at the heap of 
telegrams on the floor. Finally he said over and over again: 'Now 

that I am down, I shall find out who are my real friends Now 

that . . / 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

In his naivety Rhodes had seriously believed that Hofmeyr ? 
Schreiner and perhaps also Merriman would believe in his com- 
plete innocence and stick to Mm. He read a note sent to him by 
Hofmeyr, who had also feared during Rhodes 5 three days of 
flight and heavy drinking that the 'Colossus 9 might lose his head 
and do away with himself. In a few lines Hofmeyr tried to tell him 
that though their political association must needs be at an ends, his 
personal feelings of friendship and sympathy for his friend*s plight 
remained untouched by the recent events. 

Rhodes almost upset the arm-chair as he leapt out of it and 
flung the letter on the floor. Stamping on it, he shouted at his 
astonished secretary: 

*Go back and tell him that I want friends while I'm alive. I don't 
want any of his post-mortem snivelling.* 

The next morning, before the sun was up, he wrote a note to 
Schreiner: 

It is Sunday. A merciful Providence will now guide us to a 
decision. I really mean it and no chaff. * . . 

Schreiner was away at his fishing cottage at False Bay and could 
therefore not accede to Rhodes' demand to come and see him. 
Also worried by many rumours of Rhodes 5 wanderings, he wrote 
him a note in which can be felt the sincerity of a great friendship 
words inspired by a sore heart and dictated by a character of 
sterling quality: 

Whatever you suffer or whatever you seem to have lost or to be 
losing, do not let them induce you to do anything small. You must 
go on living your life on big lines. Rest and wait and your grip will 
return. I am so anxious about you, and my anxiety about your 
health is less than my apprehension, foolish perhaps, that you may 
be persuaded not to take and acknowledge your foil responsibility 
for what has occurred. . . . You will understand how my heart yearns 
towards you. As fox me, I am all right in a way and I dream still. 

On Sunday evening there arrived unexpectedly at Groote 
Schuur the Archbishop of Cape Town. He refused to accept the 
response that Rhodes was unable to see him. Friends had asked 
him to go out to Groote Schuur as they themselves had not been 
admitted and feared that the worst might happen. The Archbishop 

[313] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

finally saw Rhodes in his bedroom and spoke to him at some 
length, telling him that his Christian duty bade him not give up. 
Rhodes appeared much relieved by the soothing words of the 
Archbishop. 

The next few days brought one crushing blow after the other. 
From Pretoria came the news that the 'Boers show a tendency 
to get out of hand and demand the execution of Jameson'. On 
6 January a new Government was formed at the Cape, and Rhodes 
was not even consulted by his successor. Secretly he had hoped 
so little did he as yet realize the seriousness of his position 
that his influence was still strong enough to prevent the formation 
of a government in which he was not present at least in spirit. 

On 7 January after an ultimatum from the Transvaal Govern- 
ment, Johannesburg surrendered unconditionally. The comic- 
opera revolution had ended in Gilbert-and-Sullivan style just as 
it had begun. 

The leaders of the Reform Committee, among them Frank 
Rhodes, Lionel Phillips, Rhodes' American mining expert J. H. 
Hammond, and Barnato's nephew Solly Joel, were arrested and 
taken to prison In Pretoria, The only pleasant tidings which 
Rhodes heard that day was the news that President Kruger, upon 
the personal intervention of the Queen, had magnanimously 
consented to hand over Dr Jameson and the other officers under 
arrest to the British authorities for punishment. 

No one to whom Rhodes could unburden his heart came near 
him. And in him there burnt a desire for activity, anger at being 
pushed aside, and fear that his voice would no longer be heard. 
Only Hofmeyr and the Bond had the power to pave the way for 
Rhodes to return to the politics of the Cape. 

Rhodes swallowed his pride and asked a cousin of Hofmeyr's 
to arrange a meeting between them. Only after his cousin's appeal 
, to 'display the Christian spirit of forgiveness' did Hofmeyr give 
his consent. He met Rhodes and in his face he saw written the 
mental and physical agony which Rhodes had endured during 
the last few days. 'What am I to do?' Rhodes asked Hofmeyr. 
"Live it down!' "How can I do it? Am I to get rid of myself?' 

Hofmeyr could only advise his former ally to resign from 
Parliament and to keep away from politics for a while. Rhodes, he 
insisted, must declare publicly by a manifesto that he condemned 
Jameson's deplorable action whole-heartedly. A declaration of 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

this kind, for which every decent man in the Cape had now 
been waiting for more than a week, was necessary in the 
interests of reconciliation and peace. 

Hofmeyr had the impression that Rhodes' thoughts were stray- 
ing during the conversation. Repeatedly he interrupted Hofmeyr 
to lament his fate: his whole life's work would be destroyed and 
his life would no longer be worth living if the Charter were 
revoked. He seemed to worry only about the Charter. Was 
Hofmeyr going to attack him and agitate for the cancellation of 
the Charter? If such an attack had to be expected he could not 
go away from Cape Town; otherwise he might leave for Rhodesia 
very soon. 

Rhodes remained very vague* Immediately after receiving 
Hofmeyr's promise that he had no intention of attacking Mm 
concerning the Charter which he asked him to repeat the next 
day in front of a mutual friend he seemed to be filled with new 
life. He shook Hofmeyr*s hand and said casually that he would 
consider Hofmeyr's advice and that they could talk matters over 
again 'when times are more settled*. 

On his way home Hofmeyr realized that Rhodes was^ helplessly 
lost, still 'imagining himself a young king, the equal of the 
Almighty*. He felt that *the white ants had begun again to eat 
away all that was noble in this unhappy man, poisoning his weak 
character with the honey of flattery 7 . 

The staff of Groote Schuur was surprised when told that 
Rhodes was leaving for Kimberley immediately. Forgotten if 
ever he had contemplated it seriously was the thought of suicide. 
The old fighting spirit had returned* 

His friends in Kimberley certainly came up to the occasion. 
They had stirred up the whole town to give Rhodes a rousing 
welcome. When Rhodes saw the masses of people pushing to- 
wards him, when he heard the cheers, he became intoxicated 
again with the greatness of his personality and believed that all 
these people had come to show him that they stood behind him. 
These good people of Kimberley, he thought, were certainly not 
alone. The whole of South Africa, he was convinced, was behind 
him. And he would not fail them. 

He waved to them happily, feeling like a victorious Roman 
emperor welcomed homein triumphal procession. 'Speech! Speech!* 
they shouted. He was careful at first, but encouraged by their 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

cheering he let himself go, uttering dark threats, making obscure 
allegations and indulging in generalizing accusations. He ended 
the short speech with the words: 

There is an idea abroad that my public career had come to an end. 
On the contrary, I think it is just beginning, and I have a firm belief 
that I shall live to do useful work for this country. 

His former friends in Cape Town were disagreeably surprised 
by Rhodes' quick political resurrection. Their astonishment in- 
creased when they learnt about a telegraphic interview with 
Rhodes published in the New York World (14 January 1896): 

CAPE TOWN, 12 JANUARY 1896. 

The position is that within the Transvaal there are 70,000 new- 
comers and an old population of 14,000. 

With the development of the gold industry to a fuller extent the 
newcomers will probably amount to 500,000 in five years. 

From time to time the position will be upset by the attempts of the 
new population to claim common civil rights, which eventually they 
certainly must get. 

Statesmanship should give them some rights now, as the present 
state is impossible for the newcomers, who own more than half the 
soil of the Transvaal, and nine-tenths of the wealth of the country. 

The new males outnumber the old in population five to one, and 
are composed largely of Americans, including the principal mine 
managers. 

England is the only great power in South Africa. 

She is now threatened with German interference, which she is 
bound to resent and resist. 

In this she should have America's sympathy. Blood is thicker 
than water. 

Americans above all nations insist on civil rights in one's industries 
here at the Cape. 

In the Transvaal all my managers are Americans. 

And yet we have the spectacle of the two great English-speaking 
nations of the world almost on the verge of war about some barren 
land in South America, whereas by working in perfect harmony the 

peace of the world would be assured. 

c. j. RHODES. 

This statement of Rhodes' had just the opposite effect of what 
he had expected. He had blatantly demonstrated his political 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

Ignorance outside his own narrow sphere, particularly where it 
concerned American public opinion. From the editorial comment 
on his interview, published in the same issue of the New York 
World, it was dear that all decent people condemned his (and 
Chamberlain's) policy of aggression in South Africa: 

THE TROUBLE IN AFRICA 

The cable message of ex-Premier Cecil Rhodes of Cape Colony 
to the World ... is a declaration that the doom of the Boer Republic 
has been declared, that the English influence, the mining influence, 
the greed of gain and the spirit of the age, all working against this 
picturesque relic of individual freedom, cannot fail to destroy it. * * . 

It may be wrong for the Boers to refuse political rights to the 
Uitlanders. But if it is, the way to right the wrong is not to send a 
swift and secret expedition armed with Winchesters and Maxims to 
surprise a peaceful, orderly, legal and presumably unarmed civil 
government. . . . 

The Jameson raid will have to be settled for in full before any 
demand is made on the people of the United States for sympathy 
with the raiders. 

When Rhodes* attempt at influencing American public opinion 
became known in South Africa, Hofmeyr condemned the cabled 
interview as a 'bundle of lies, distortions and humbug 3 . Not one 
of Rhodes* facts or figures corresponded with the truth. 

The New York interview was followed by a similar declaration 
of Rhodes* given to The Times which Hofmeyr described as 'filled 
with mischievous fictions*. No, Rhodes had learnt nothing. His 
former collaborators would still have to teach him a lesson in 
spite of all their former friendship. Hofmeyr no longer felt himself 
bound to spare Rhodes and wired to him that he had the full 
intention, in case Rhodes continued to spread such ghastly lies, 
of cabling *an exposure signed by himself and other prominent 
men*. The telegram bore the signatures of all Rhodes* former 
political friends, among them his successor Sir Gordon Sprigg, 
Hofmeyr, Schreiner, Merriman and Sauer. 

Rhodes stayed in Kimberley for only a few days. Then, without 
telling anyone, he left for England. 

It could no longer be denied that Chamberlain was in a quan- 
dary. Everything had gone wrong since those eventful kst days 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

of the Old and first days of the New Year. The fiasco of the Raid, 
the ridiculous Johannesburg 'revolution', the capture of Jameson 
and aU his officers and the arrest of the leading 'Reformers' was 
bad enough. Still worse that silly ass of a guards officer. Major 
the Honourable 'Bobby* White, acting as Jameson's aide-de- 
camp, had carefully kept in his kit not only all telegrams, mes- 
sages, orders and correspondence but also the secret code and 
had allowed it to fall into the hands of the Boers. Chamberlain's 
name appeared in these documents in various connections. They 
were now probably busy in Pretoria, using them to compromise 
him and the Government as having been in the know aU along. 
What they thought and did in Pretoria, Chamberlain did not care. 
The only trouble was that He had firmly assured Salisbury that the 
Colonial Office had been taken completely by surprise and had 
had no previous knowledge of Rhodes' and Jameson's machina- 
tions. As a result of this declaration Salisbury had made solemn 
statements to the foreign Powers and the Queen had written to 
various monarchs that the British Government had been in no 
way involved. 

A scapegoat would have to be found. Rumours were already 
going round that Chamberlain had been 'in it up to the neck'. 
Chamberlain's ambitions went beyond the Colonial Office, and 
South Africa was not going to be the graveyard of his 
reputation. Rhodes, life and soul of it all, would have to be the 
scapegoat. 

Rhodes had been warned. The news that he was already on his 
way to England was anything but welcome to Chamberlain. With 
what kind of adversary he had to deal Chamberlain was to learn 
the very day, 4 February, on which Rhodes arrived. 

Rhodes had sent Mr Bourchier Hawkesley, the solicitor of the 
Chartered Company, to the Colonial Office to warn Chamberlain 
through Hawkesley's Very great personal friend' Fairfield that 
Rhodes would make use of certain telegrams in his possession, 
proving beyond doubt Chamberlain's knowledge and approval 
of the Raid, should Chamberlain make any attempt to cancel the 
Charter, proceed against Rhodes or deprive Mm of his title of 
Privy Councillor. 

Chamberlain, in the dutches of a guilty conscience, asked 
Fairfield to write a private letter to Hawkesley with a request to 
come to him with the compromising telegrams. Instead of going 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

to the Colonial Office, Hawkesley sent Ms Very great personal 
friend* an arrogant note: *Mr Chamberlain knows what I know., 
and can shape his course with this knowledge. . . . As I hope I 
made clear to you there is not the slightest intention to make use 
whatever of confidential communications. . .* 

Through Lord Grey's intervention Chamberlain was allowed 
to see copies of the telegrams. Unfortunately for him there were 
not only the twisted reports of Rutherford Harris but altogether 
seven different reports by absolutely reliable witnesses such as 
Lord Grey, Hawkesley, Maguire and Flora Shaw,. who had all 
cabled to Rhodes independently about interviews which they had 
had with Chamberlain and his chief advisers in the Colonial Office. 
From these telegrams there remained no doubt that Chamberlain 
had known everything not only about the activities of the 
Reformers in preparing an armed uprising but also about the 
preparations of Dr Jameson for his Raid. Though 'Chamberlain 
will do anything to assist*, "one of the telegrams stated, *you are 
aware* [according to another text] 'Chamberlain states Dr Jame- 
son's plan must not be mentioned to him*. 

When Chamberlain read these telegrams he was consumed with 
rage. It now became clear to him 'that there was & deliberate plot 
to commit the Colonial Office ... to a general approval of 
Rhodes* plans and then to use this afterwards as a screen for the 
whole conspiracy*. No, Chamberlain could do nothing to fight 
this 'bkckmailing scheme* instigated by people whom he called 
*a dishonourable lot from top to bottom*. Chamberlain was ready 
to appease Cecil Rhodes. 

On 6 February, Rhodes entered Chamberlain's office. Rhodes 
was not sure whether Chamberlain would fall into the trap. He 
still counted with the possibility of being sent to prison. On his 
arrival he had learnt that a Parliamentary Inquiry would probably 
be opened against him. As usual when he was in a tight corner, 
Rhodes tried to conceal his true feelings behind cynicism: *I don*t 
mind doing a stretch. Well, I suppose I should go along all right. 
There are a lot of books I have been wanting to read for many 
years now without having an opportunity of doing so. I should 
go in for a course of reading.* 

For so peaceful and friendly a reception as he was given 
by Chamberlain, Rhodes was certainly not prepared. For one 
hour and forty minutes the two men were closeted together. 

[319] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Chamberlain told Rhodes that he did not intend to revoke 
the Charter, though for the only reason that the Government 
did not want to be burdened with the heavy annual deficit in 
Rhodesia. He did not, however, yield to Rhodes' demand to 
drop the idea of a Parliamentary Inquiry in spite of all Rhodes' 
efforts. About the compromising telegrams not a word was 
mentioned. 

When Rhodes came out of the room no trace of despair 
remained on his face. It shone with the glow of his old self- 
satisfaction. But this time no court was held in the Burlington 
Hotel. He strongly felt the animosity of London towards him. 
He considered himself 'hunted, hounded and harassed', especially 
by the general opinion that the Raid had been organi2ed as a 
stock-exchange manoeuvre in his and his friends 3 financial 
interests. 

Labouchere in Truth, as well as the Morning "Leader., the Daily 
News and several financial papers pointed to the enormous profits 
which Rhodes, Beit and their partners had derived from off- 
loading the majority of their holdings in the Chartered Company 
on the public at a time when shares which had cost them i stood 
at S-io each. Between July 1895 and the beginning of 1896 
Rhodes had made more than i million, Beit even more, and they 
had not forgotten their old friends who also had been allowed 
to make their 'pile', altogether a profit of -3,,25o,ooo for the 
group. 

Gold-share fever, the wildest speculations, the greatest share 
swindles flourished as never before. It was therefore not surpris- 
ing that some papers sounded a sharp warning against the 
financing methods of the Chartered Company. Xabby' in Truth 
spoke of *this wretched, rotten, bankrupt set of marauders 
and murderers'. *A group of exceedingly shady financiers has 
carried on a gambling establishment with the Union Jack flying 
over it.' 

No wonder that Rhodes became nervous once again. He had 
learnt that when Parliament was to meet on n February, the 
Raid would be one of the first topics of debate. His political and 
legal advisers cautioned him to leave the country as soon as 
possible, and thus avoid being called to the Bar of the House 
and perhaps have criminal proceedings instituted against him. 
'Hunted, hounded and harassed*, he left London on 10 February, 

[320] 



A LITTLE HISTORY BEING MADE 

only five days after his arrival, and proceeded in the greatest 
secrecy on a German steamer via the Suez Canal to Rhodesia. 
Only there did he feel safe and free. That for which he had come 
to England he had achieved: Chamberlain would not dare to 
deprive him of the Charter. By means of a clever whispering 
campaign that Chamberlain had been *in it up to the neck" 
Rhodes was no longer held entirely responsible for the happen- 
ings in South Africa. Joseph Chamberlain had been forced by 
Rhodes to defend Rhodes in order to save himself, his reputation 
and his future. 

Rhodes sneaked away from London. It had been expected that 
he would at least wait for the arrival of his friend Dr Jameson, 
who together with his officers was being brought to London as a 
prisoner on a warship. It would have been chivalrous, people 
said, to testify on behalf of his old friend or at least to give him 
some moral support. There were also the other men, the unfortu- 
nate conspirators of the Reform Committee including his brother 
Frank, who were awaiting trial in the Pretoria jail. All that 
Rhodes did for his brother was to ask his sister Edith to go there 
and 'look after Frank*. 

Rhodes, seeking to save his own skin, was already on the 
high seas when Parliament was washing all his dirty linen in 
public. 

The 1 3th February 1 896 was a great day in the House. Everyone 
knew that Joseph Chamberlain would have to fight a battle royal for 
his very life. Not a muscle moved in his face when Harcourt, very 
carefully, since he still believed in Chamberlain's innocence, fired 
off his accusations and exposed *the squalid and sordid picture 
of stock-jobbing imperialism'. He ended his condemnation of 
Rhodes with the warning that *we do not desire to extend the 
Empire or gain wealth per fas et nefas by fraud, falsehood and 
crime!* 

Chamberlain rose from his seat. He assured the House c to the 
best of my knowledge and belief that everybody, that Mr Rhodes, 
that the Chartered Company, that the Reform Committee of 
Johannesburg, and the High Commissioner were all equally 
ignorant of the intention or action of Dr Jameson*. 

If this was not the truth, it was at least clever politics. It must 
have been the sharp edge of the poised dagger of blackmail which 
made him launch out on a smug eulogy of the man whom the 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

whole world, including the majority of English people, considered 
justly to have been the curse of South Africa: 

... A few weeks ago Mr Rhodes was I think the most powerful 
man in South Africa. , . He goes back almost as a private individual, 
having not the control of a single policeman . . . and for the moment 
at aU events, having seen his work jeopardized, possibly destroyed 
the work he set himself of consolidating and bringing together the 
Dutch and English races. 

I am not to pronounce upon Mr Rhodes, but I say it would be an 
act of ingratitude if we were, even now, when suspicion hangs over 
him, to forget the great services he has rendered. I believe he is 
capable of great service still . . . even if he has done wrong in the 
past, he may do a great deal to repair that wrong, and recover the 
confidence and gratitude of his fellow-citizens. . . . 



CHAPTER XVI 

. . . ALL BUT THE BOILS' 

IT was not only the heat of the Rhodesian summer which 
robbed Rhodes of sleep during the months which followed his 
hurried London visit to interview Chamberlain at the beginning 
of 1896. The disasters which befell him from the time of his 
return to Africa till the end of 1897 would have broken a stronger 
man. 

On 30 May 1896, in Pretoria, Frank Rhodes, Lionel Phillips., 
Farrar and Hammond were condemned to death and the others to 
two years* imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 each. President 
Kruger realized, however, that the Johannesburg conspirators 
had merely been instruments in the hands of Rhodes. When a 
deputation of his burghers had come to him after the capture of 
Dr Jameson he had thundered at them: 

'Bah! You are always tap, tap, tapping at the tail of the snake; 
why don't you cut his head off ?' 

He decided to pardon the prisoners and commuted the capital 
sentences to fines of 15,000 each with banishment for fifteen 
years. 

The news came as a great relief to Rhodes, who willingly paid 
the fines. His share of the expenses for the miscarried revolt and 
Raid the other half being carried by Beit amounted to more 
than 250,000. Further and even greater amounts, Rhodes feared, 
would be demanded of him by the British Government in pay- 
ment of damages caused by the Raid, for which the Transvaal 
was asking 677,938 3^ 3^. *for actual outlay* and i million 
for 'moral and intellectual damage'. 

Another danger threatened Rhodes: Kruger demanded his trial 
before an English criminal court. Rhodes was certain that 
Salisbury and his Cabinet would throw him to the wolves if they 
could derive even the smallest advantage from it. That much was 
dear after the treatment which had been meted out to poor 
Jameson who after a seven-day trial had been sentenced to fifteen 
months* imprisonment and his officers to terms of between five 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

and ten months. Only after a general uproar in the Press were 
they given the privileges of First Division prisoners. After the 
sentence Rhodes, through his lawyer Hawkesley, declared in the 
London papers that he was willing to return from Rhodesia 
immediately and stand his trial, in case Her Majesty's Government 
'might think fit to call upon him to do so'. 

The news from England upset Rhodes badly, especially when 
he heard that even his friend Stead had censured him publicly, 
in the Review of Reviews, and was Very anxious to have him sent 
to prison . . . believing that it would have been much better for 
him, for the cause of the Empire, and for the future of South 
Africa*. 

The next blow came in the form of a short note from the 
Colonial Office that Rhodes and Beit must resign from the Board 
of Directors of the Chartered Company, which hurt his pride even 
though he had expected it. Something which also pained him a 
great deal was the news that he had been black-balled in London 
by the Travellers* Club, an incident which Labouchere had 
broadcast with great glee. 

In the Cape Parliament, where Rhodes had ruled for five years 
as the supreme and unchallenged master, the 'mugwumps', as he 
had called them, sat in judgment upon him. After long and 
acrimonious debates, Parliament resolved to nominate a Select 
Committee to investigate the Raid and Rhodes' activities. Three 
former members of Rhodes' Cabinet, Schreiner, Innes and Merri- 
man, were among the seven members of this committee. Rhodes 
was notified accordingly *in order to afford him an opportunity to 
lay before the Committee such evidence or statements as he might 
wish to adduce'. Rhodes did not even consider this notification 
worthy of a reply. The findings of the Committee in a majority 
report which filled yoo-odd pages were summarised in the 
concluding sentence: 

They are reluctantly forced to the conclusion . . * that the part 
taken by him [Rhodes] in the organization which led to the inroad 
headed by Dr Jameson, was not consistent with his duty as Prime 
Minister of the Colony. 

About the verdict Rhodes did not care. His one fear was that 
the Cape Parliament would try to deprive him of the Charter. 
Merriman introduced a motion that the Chartered Company was 

[3*4] 



. * . -ALL BUT THE BOILS 

'not consistent with the peace and prosperity of South Africa*, 
and that the Queen should be asked for 'the revocation or altera- 
tion of the Charter*. The motion was defeated by a large majority 
60 votes to ii and principally through the intervention of 
Schreiner, who concluded a masterpiece of oratory with the words: 

... I would just say that nothing . . . has caused me in any way to 
waver in the estimate I hold as to the motives of Mr Rhodes. Mis- 
guided though they were, they were the highest of motives. The 
supreme powers that Mr Rhodes has are fit to adorn a position of 
the highest eminence and I am sorry to think that these great powers 
have not been coupled in this matter with more respect for what is 
right and what is wrong. . . . The aim of Mr Rhodes was a high one. 
I wish it had been a right one. 

No friendship did Rhodes miss more not did any condemnation 
cause him greater grief than that of Schreiner. All that he felt 
for his former friend he put down in a letter which he wrote to 
him from the veld in Rhodesia: 

... I want to tell you that you need not fear as to the North, the 
people are fond of me and I will fulfil every pledge I gave in the 
House as to closer union and similar laws and eventual union. 

You said once 'supposing you died'. I am dead in a way but 
everything will be carried out as I foretold by my presence here. 
I am not going to die physically. I am not going to run away from 
Africa. I will remain here unofficially and carry out the big idea, . . . 

You will say why did you not speak to me? I reply I was not 
going to mix you up. . . . Why did you not counsel waiting for the 
future? My reply is that Kruger is temporary* . . . 

I write this to you because you can give me nothing . . . and it 
gives me an opportunity of expressing my thoughts and clearing 
some doubts in my mind. ... I have only one regret. I am afraid my 
conduct has caused division in your family. Your mother must be 
a lovable woman. I am afraid she has too high an opinion of myself . . . 
I go by the golden rule which you gave me. Possess your soul in 
patience. Yrs. C J. Rhodes. 

The series of disasters had not yet come to an end. The year 
1896 was drawing to a close. One morning Lord Grey, the new 
Administrator of Rhodesia, received a telegraphic message from 
Cape Town for Rhodes, He knew that a sudden shock might kill 

[3*5] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Rhodes, whose health had suffered under the excitement of the 
past few months. He therefore held back the telegram for several 
hours. They were riding together over the veld near Bulawayo* 
Rhodes was speaking, as he often did of late, about the many 
misfortunes which the year had brought him. It seemed more 
difficult than before to tell him the sad news. Lord Grey stam- 
mered; ' Well, Mr Rhodes, I am sorry, there is more bad news. . . / 
Rhodes stopped the horse. His face turned yellow. Grey told him 
news had come from Cape Town that Groote Schuur had burnt 
down to the ground. Rhodes sighed with relief and muttered in 
a hoarse voice: 

'Oh, thank God, thank God! I was afraid that something had 
happened to Dr Jim. Oh, thank God, thank God!' 

Back from his ride, Rhodes sent a telegram to his architect 
asking him to begin immediately with the rebuilding and furnish- 
ing of Groote Schuur exactly as it had been before except for the 
thatched roof which was to be replaced by shingles. 

Unpleasant comments about Rhodes appeared in the English 
Press when it became known that several troopers had had to go 
to court to obtain compensation from the Chartered Company 
for injuries sustained in the Raid. Rhodes, who knew nothing 
about the case, was accused of 'meanness towards men who do 
his dirty work'. Still harder words were used when the Company 
lodged an appeal against the judgment. As soon as Rhodes read 
about the accusations he cabled orders to settle the matter 
immediately and withdraw the appeal. 

Meanness was one fault of which Rhodes was never guilty. In 
Rhodesia the demands on his purse were particularly heavy. 
Lord Grey once asked him why he spoilt the people, most of 
them obviously undeserving cases, by giving away cheques of 
20 or even 50 whenever a fellow told Mm a sob-story. Rhodes 
explained: 

'Well, a man once came to me in Cape Town and said he was 
on his beam ends, could I lend him something? I didn't like the 
fellow's face and refused, and that same night he committed 
suicide. That was a lesson to me; and since then I have never 
dared to refuse money to folks who are hard upP 

The public accusations of meanness in England, unjustified as 
they were, therefore hurt Rhodes to the quick. Not only old foes 
like Labouchere but also responsible men Uke Harcourt accused 

[3*6] 



*. . ALL BUT THE BOILS* 

Rhodes In Parliament of sordid financial motives in connection 
with the Raid. During a debate on Chamberlain's motion to 
nominate a Select Committee of the House of Commons to inquire 
into the Raid, Harcourt had called Rhodes *a rogue and a liar'. 
Rhodes had moved heaven and earth, particularly through 
Hawkesley's 'rather foxy pressure' on Chamberlain, to prevent 
such an inquiry. Chamberlain^ in his despair, had taken Harcourt 
into his confidence and Harcourt had replied: *To me the black- 
mailing part of the transaction is the basest and blackest of the 
whole/ Hawkesley also failed in his impudent demand to have 
the Committee packed with Rhodes' friends. The only man on 
the Committee favourably disposed towards Rhodes was George 
Wyndham, 'the delight and ornament of the House, and the 
charm of every private society he honoured with his presence*. 

Another member nominated to the Committee was Labouchere. 
Lord Grey, who as Administrator of Rhodesia was a Government 
official, had the audacity to write a letter to Chamberlain who, 
though a personal friend, was also the Colonial Secretary and 
therefore his chief in which he called the nomination of 
Labouchere *an intolerable insult to Rhodes', The letter also 
contained another threatening reference to the compromising 
cables. This time Chamberlain would not allow himself to be 
brow-beaten since he knew that he had Harcourt on his side and 
with him the Liberals. 

Still thinking that he had Chamberlain *in his pocket', Rhodes 
was anxious to take Harcourt 'on the personal*. He knew that he 
would not be able to silence him, but perhaps he would be able 
to put him in a more lenient frame of mind. 

Rhodes was never a great letter- writer. He preferred to conduct 
his correspondence by telegrams which excluded any emotional 
outbursts. When he did write a letter, and personally at that, it 
was a matter of the greatest importance. Much to the surprise of 
his secretary, he asked for pen, ink and paper to be brought to 
him and began to write a letter to the Right Honourable Sk 
WilHam Harcourt, M.P., Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition: 

. . I should be sorry to think that you thought I was 'capable but 
not honest'. I have tried to unite South Africa and no sordid motive 
has influenced me. 

You might say why do I write, certainly not to mitigate your 
censure, but in case we come to grief I wish you to know that I feel 

[3*7] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

that, whatever you have said, you have said it from a sense of public 
duty, and that I hope you will understand in the future that I under- 
stand the reasons of your censure 9 though bitter, and I am still 
pleased to think that you had an affection for me. But remove from 
your mind the idea of sordid motive. . . . 

I am minded to tear this up, but the outlook is gloomy, and I 
would not like you to misunderstand me. If I get through, well, 
tear this up; if I do not, I think when you are sitting in that smoking 
room at Rothschild's you will be pleased to think that I understood 
your reasons, but I could not go out from here to an uncertainty 
without saying, blame me as you like but do not do the cruel thing 
of attributing my conduct to sordid motives. Good-bye. 

You make one mistake the Dutch in Africa are not all with 
Kruger, and my action was not English v. Dutch. But we would 
not have the German element, and the Pretorian Government must 
go. 

Rhodes was .right in saying that the outlook was gloomy. The 
Chartered Company, which Rhodes had still prevented from 
being declared insolvent, now faced final catastrophe. The 
Matabele were in open revolt; rinderpest was devastating the 
country; famine was taking its toll throughout the North; no 
gold had been found; the settlers were dissatisfied and on the 
point of quitting; the Company lacked the most urgent means, 
all fresh financial sources had been cut off and Chartered shares 
were almost worthless, Rhodes therefore had every reason to 
lament: *I feel like Job, all but the boils/ 

When Rhodes had travelled to Salisbury from Beira in April 
18965 he had seen the veld covered with the skeletons of thousands 
of cattle, all -victims of the rinderpest. And by the precautions 
which most settlers had taken to fortify their homesteads he knew 
that Rhodesia was in flames, set alight by a Matabele rising. It was 
bitter news to him. Though Rhodes had now been in close contact 
with Natives for more than a quarter-century, he still did not 
have any knowledge of their mentality. For him they were 
'children, just emerging from barbarism*. Yet he realised that 
something positive would have to be done to solve the Native 
problem: 

, . . They are increasing enormously: their locations are too small 
for them. The old diminution by pestilence and wars has ceased. We 
have put nothing in the place of their old tribal war and intrigue 



*. . 9 ALL BUT THE BOILS 5 

which were excellent things in their way to keep their minds 
employed. We have instead placed canteens in their midst and never 
taught them the dignity of labour. . . . 

One of the main reasons for discontent in the country, which 
certainly did not contribute towards teaching the Natives *the 
dignity of labour', was the existence of slavery which had been 
introduced by the Company and about which the British Resident, 
Sir Richard Martin, later reported to the High Commissioner: 
'Compulsory labour does undoubtedly exist in Matabeleland if 
not in Mashonaland. . . . Labour procured by the various Native 
Commissioners for the various requirements of the Government 
[Company], mining companies and private persons ... a labour 
system synonymous with slavery. . . / 

Indunas began to rouse their people from their lethargy by telling 
them that they had not really been beaten and that Lobengula was 
still alive. The Matabele listened joyfully to anyone willing to give 
them a lead. After Lobengula's death they had been left, as Selous 
had stated at the time, like a swarm of bees bereft of their queen*. 
They had lost their king, their leader, the father of their nation. 
They had been robbed of their cattle; their huts had been burnt 
down to make room for the settlers and for mining camps or had 
just been left empty. Homeless, starving and sick, destitute and 
hopeless, they had nowhere to go. The Company had expro- 
priated their land and deprived them of all ownership rights. 
Only two Matabele in the whole country, who had bought garden 
plots from the Company, still possessed any soil. The Matabele 
masses had finally been crammed into a 'location* situated in the 
worst part of the country which was devoid of fertile soil, water 
and game and where fever made life impossible. A British official 
described this territory as 'graveyards but not homesteads'. More- 
over, after Lobengula's death, the Company had appropriated all 
the cattle of the country without investigating property rights. 
And, worst of all, the white police had been replaced by Mashonas 
who searched for cattle bearing the Company's brand-mark with 
systematic cruelty. 

Reports told of the massing of large impis and from all parts of 
Matabeleland came the sound of war-cries; Tshayai Bu/a/a beat 
them, kill them* At first single settlers were shot. Then whole 
white families were massacred* 

[3*9] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

The settlers blamed the Tour RV for the dreadful events in 
Rhodesia: Rhodes, Rinderpest, Raid and Rebellion. 

Rhodes was less interested in investigating the causes of the 
uprising than in suppressing it as quickly and cheaply as possible. 
With the help of Lord Grey he organized in Salisbury and 
Bulawayo volunteer detachments of settlers, including many of 
his pioneers. Bulawayo with its 4,000 inhabitants was besieged 
by an army of 15,000 Matabele warriors, among them some of 
Lobengula's elite troops which he had kept in reserve at the time 
of the invasion of Matabeleland. A relief column of volunteers 
under Colonel Plumer was sent to Bulawayo, defeated this 
Matabele army and thus relieved the beleaguered town. The 
British Government had sent out a detachment of regular British 
troops from Mafeking and insisted that the Rhodesian volunteer 
corps should be put under the command of regular British 
officers. 

Rhodes, though still suffering from frequent attacks of malaria, 
left Salisbury with one of the volunteer columns towards the 
middle of April* He was in one of his worst moods. According 
to his calculations every day of this unforeseen war was costing 
the Company 4,000. In view of the insolvent state of the 
Company he would not be able to finance the campaign for long. 

During the march into Matabeleland, Rhodes kept to himself. 
He always pitched his tent two or three miles away from the 
camp. He wanted to be alone because he hated the usual officers* 
mess conversations. 

In his detachment were four colonels and soon they began to 
argue about seniority. Rhodes ended the argument by saying: 
'Gentlemen, I am a colonel too, honorary colonel of the Kimberley 
Light Horse, and you'll think me a funny fellow I am a funny 
fellow but you must remember I am one of Her Majesty's Privy 
Councillors and therefore I am naturally the senior of all of you. 
And so that's settled!' His impulsive behaviour did not increase 
his popularity with the warrior caste. From Whitehall came a 
cable: 'Hear you have appointed yourself Colonel Wire explana- 
tion/ Rhodes did not reply. 

Throughout the march he rode in front of the troops, which 
was not without danger since several attacks from Matabele 
snipers had taken place. He was asked rather to keep with the 
main body or in the rear. Rhodes replied: If I am in front, they 

[350] 



. . . ALL BUT THE BOILS 

will all aim at me and all miss; while if I ride behind, I may be 
hit by accident/ 

His detachment soon came under fire. The Matabele had by 
now learnt the proper use of fire-arms and the dum-dum bullets 
of their elephant guns were particularly feared. During the first 
attack by the Matabele, in the old Zulu tradition of massed frontal 
rushes, Rhodes walked calmly along the lines of his troops as 
though unaware of the danger around him. 

Clad as usual in white flannel trousers, of which Tom even in 
this campaign had to see that there was a fresh pair ready every 
morning, Norfolk jacket and large grey slouch-hat, Rhodes 
offered a good target for the bullets which whistled about him. 
Rhodes was unarmed; a hunting-crop was all he carried. A 
desperate 'Colossus' a colossus with clay feet, ruined, facing 
bankruptcy, 'hunted, hounded and harassed', derobed of his 
power, abandoned by most of his friends and mocked by his 
enemies was he trying to find a bullet for a melodramatic 
exit? 

When the rain of Bullets became denser, Rhodes no longer 
pretended to enjoy the battle. Later he confessed to Garrett: *I 
was in a funk all the time and more afraid to be thought 
afraid/ 

He soon learnt from experienced troopers how to take cover. 
He still thought that it was unbecoming for him to throw himself 
to the ground. Once, when a* bullet almost hit him, he turned to 
his secretary almost apologetically: 

'D'you know, it was a very near thing. I might have been hit 

in the stomach very unpleasant I should have been very 

an g r y I wa s never in such a funk in my life hit in the 

stomadh Absurd, isn't it, how you can't help ducking 

Not a bit of good- * 

The Matabele were, of course, mowed down like ripe corn by 
the machine-guns. Rhodes led an attack himself against the ktaal 
of a Native chief, marching in front of the troops and wildly 
swinging his riding-crop. In trying to escape, the encircled Natives 
ran straight into the machine-guns, which within a few minutes 
slaughtered more than seventy of them, like rats' as Rhodes 
proudly announced. 

After the "battle' there was an argument in the camp about the 
number of Natives killed* *Very well/ said Rhodes, 'we'll count 

133X] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

them again! 3 Alone, ignoring the darkness of the night and the 
possibility of an ambush, Rhodes climbed up the steep hill to the 
'battle scene* and counted the bodies by walking from, corpse to 
corpse. 

Even hardened old troopers were shocked when they heard 
Rhodes, after the first big encounter, speak of his own troops' 
casualties in this cynical way: * You'll admit that for 300 men 
who went out to fight the Natives numbering about 6,000, the 
record of a butcher's bill of about 75 is a very fair one.' His first 
question after every encounter was: 'How many Natives were 
killed?' Once one of the subalterns answered: 'Very few, sir, the 
Natives threw down their arms, went on their knees and begged 
for mercy.' Rhodes looked at the young officer as though he had 
not understood him: 'Well, you should not spare them. You 
should kill all you can, as it serves as a lesson to them when they 
talk things over by their fires at night. They count up the killed 
and say so and so is dead and so and so is no longer here and 
they begin to fear you.' 

An old Native chief had told Rhodes: 'You may wipe out the 
Matabele but you cannot make dogs of them.' He remembered 
these words when he arrived in Bulawayo, where the three 
columns met and General Sir Frederick Carrington took over 
the command. The military position had become impossible. In 
spite of their many defeats strong Matabele forces had retreated 
in full order into the Matopo Hills. Nature had given them a 
fortress, stronger and better built than could have been designed 
by military genius. There they were well protected from the 
murderous mower-guns of the white man. They had brought 
with them into the caves their women and children and sufficient 
food to last them until the next harvest. There was no longer a 
single Matabele to be seen. From their inaccessible natural fortress 
they had brought the offensive of the British troops to a complete 
standstill. 

The rainy season was about to begin and no military action 
would be possible for months. Carrington decided that all he 
could do was to break up the campaign and start again later with 
a stronger force of regular troops consisting of at least 5,000 
men. 

If the General had his way the consequences, Rhodes realized, 
would be a still longer campaign costing between 4 million and 

[33*] 



. . . ALL BUT THE BOILS* 

/5 million and leading to the irreparable ruin of the Company as 
well as his own bankruptcy. After long arguments Carrington 
agreed to give Rhodes a chance by leaving the troops there for 
a few more weeks but declined to take any responsibility. 

Rhodes still lived in his own tent, two miles away from the 
main body and not only fully visible to the enemy from the hills 
but within easy range of their bullets. 

In those days of solitude a resurrection took place within 
Rhodes. He found the way back to himself. He had overcome his 
despondency and felt his old strength of mind return to him. The 
wildly beating heart reminded him in sleepless nights of the short 
span of life left to him. Not more than fifty years at the most, he 
was certain, were allotted to him. Only six years remained. Faster 
and faster he would have to go. This expensive war would have 
to be brought to an end so that he could continue and finish the 
great work of which he had dreamt for the last twenty years, 'to 
paint this map red, British red*. 'Cape to Cairo Cape to Cairo 
. . . British red British red. . . .* What a wonderful feeling to be 
a Britisher! Once, in juvenile enthusiasm, he had believed that 
one could Eliminate the "British Factor" from South Africa'. 
How stupid he had been! No part of Africa was left in perpetuity 
to be ruled by pygmy races. Only the English race was now 
striving, and would be likely to continue doing so in the future 
by her most practical and effective work, to spread justice, liberty 

and peace over all parts of the world Was not the English 

race God's chosen instrument for bringing Justice, Liberty and 
Peace? 

Thus Rhodes had turned into a true Jingo, a natural develop- 
ment foreseen by Britain's Jingoes who had seen in him the 
incarnation of their creed. 

One night, when Lord Grey had come over from Bulawayo to 
spend a few days with him in his outpost, Rhodes, clad only in 
his flannel nightshirt, woke him up. Rubbing his eyes, Grey 
inquired: 'What's the matter, Rhodes? Is the tent on fire?* 

*No, no/ replied Rhodes, and his eyes sparkled, 'but I just 
wanted to ask you, have you ever thought how lucky you are to 
have been born an Englishman?' 

Day and night Rhodes sought for a solution to end this war 
and to bring peace to the country so that he could turn again to 
his real work. He remembered how during the campaign against 

[333] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

the Basntos in 1882 General Gordon had wanted to ask the 
Basuto indunas to meet him at a pitso conference which he 
would attend alone and unarmed, and so pacify his opponents. 

He would have to do it to do it alone. He would have to 
set everything, including his own life, on this gamble. His life's 
work was at stake. It was worth staking one's own life on it. 
He would take the indunas and if necessary all the Matabele impis 
*on the personal*. As interpreter, he had at his disposal Johann 
Colenbrander, a man who had been popular with the Matabele 
since he had accompanied Lobengula's envoys to London. 
Colenbrander's handyman was a young Swazl, John Groot- 

boom. 

For six weeks Rhodes waited in his camp to find a Native 
capable of persuading the Matabele to take up negotiations. 
Through Grootboom he was finally brought into contact with 
an ancient witch-like Native woman, one of the wives of Umzili- 
gazi, Lobengula's father, though not the mother of the last king. 
In her old brain there still lived the memory of the great king's 
advice always to live in peace with the White Man. Rhodes put 
all his charm to work on this shrivelled old woman, and it was 
not long before she fell under his spell. He himself was greatly 
impressed by her natural wisdom and gained great respect for her. 
He had her photograph taken and this picture, until his death, 
hung in his bedroom next to tha:t of Prince Bismarck and of the 
Duchess of Sutherknd. Through the old woman and with the 
help of Grootboom, Babyaan came to Rhodes' camp and stayed 
there. Babyaan told Rhodes that the older indunas were willing to 
surrender but, though near starvation, they were afraid of the 
young warriors. Rhodes wanted Babyaan to return to the other 
side and use his influence as a leading induna. Babyaan, however, 
explained: 'No, it's better this way: when they see me sitting here 
and getting fatter and fatter every day they'll say: "Look at 
Babyaan he fought as long as he thought there was a hope, and 
then he surrendered and now he gets fatter every day. Let us go 
and do the same.'" 

Though Rhodes thought, and told him so, that the old boy's 
concern was for his stomach rather than for peace, he admitted 
that according to history the stomach rules the destiny of 
nations. 

Rhodes' patience was taxed to the utmost and his nerves 

[334] 



". . . ALL BUT THE BOILS* 

strained to breaking-point. He was faced by thousands of well- 
armed Natives. During the day he could see them distinctly 
within shooting distance when they crawled out of their crevices 
and caves and from behind the big boulders to look at him 
curiously. Without paying any attention to them, Rhodes followed 
his daily routine. By going out on his long rides completely un- 
armed and accompanied only by Colenbrander and Toni, he 
showed them that he was not afraid of them. 

In the seventh week his patience was rewarded. In the hills 
there appeared a white flag. Rhodes showed no signs of excite- 
ment. He took with him Colenbrander, Dr Sauer, Grootboom 
and a Johannesburg journalist, V. Stent. Higher and higher they 
went, over kopjes,, through dark forests, over stony canyons. 
Behind them, as soon as they passed an open space, they would 
notice hundreds of heavily armed Matabele crawling out of their 
shelters. Rhodes' retreat was cut off. Even now Rhodes showed 
tic signs of fear. He knew that he was being watched by thousands 
of enemy eyes and that everything depended on his personal 
conduct to convince them of his peaceful intentions. 

They arrived at the appointed meeting-place, a krge ant-heap. 
Should they dismount? Rhodes decided: "Dismount, dismount, 
of course. It will give them confidence. They are nervous, too. 
How can they know that we haven't prepared an ambush for them 
behind th6 hill?' 

No signs of the indunas. Grootboom was the first to detect the 
white flag high up in the hills, which drew nearer and was 
followed by a long procession of Matabele. A flush of excitement 
mounted on Rhodes' face. His voice sounded hoarse and strange 

when he exclaimed: 'Yes, yes, there they arel There they are 

This is one of those moments in life that make it worth living 
worth living. . . . There they come!' 

They sat down to the indaba in a semicircle; the chiefs in the 
middle surrounded by about forty indunas, and with hundreds of 
Natives jostling each other in the background. Rhodes sat alone 
on a large stone opposite, with Colenbrander behind him and his 
other two companions a few yards farther along. 

Gradually the din of voices, the clatter of arms, the shuffle of 
feet died down. The few seconds of absolute silence increased the 
tension on both sides, Rhodes gave them after he had practised 
it well with Colenbrander the traditional salute of peace: 

[335] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

'Mehk *mblopi My eyes are white!' 

The indunas rose from the ground and shouted: 

'Mehla *mUopi.> 'nkoos Our eyes are white, Chief!" 

Natives are great debaters. They delight in oratory. Chief 
Somabulane, a member of the royal house, voiced the complaints 
of the Matabele in a long speech, which Rhodes did not once 
interrupt. When his turn came, Rhodes, through his interpreter, 
told them that the Native police would be abolished. It was like 
a cry of relief when the indunas echoed their thanks: 

'Ea bongo ea bongo \ 

Rhodes asked Colenbrander to say in his name that all he 
wanted to know was: 'Is it peace? Are the eyes white?' 

Somabulane declared that they would lay down their arms. 
Rhodes tried to control himself but in his excitement he could 
not help repeating over and over again 'That's good that's 

good He'll send in his arms send in bis arms that's 

good * 

It became evident during the ensuing negotiations that Rhodes* 
influence over the Natives was almost hypnotic. The indunas 
expressed their fear that all Rhodes' promises would be forgotten 
when Rhodes himself was gone. So he promised to stay with 
them until everything was settled. They now called him Baba 
father and Umlamula M y Kun%i the 'man who separated the 
Fighting Bulls'. 

Rhodes thought that they had now completely delivered them- 
selves into his hands. He wanted to give them a lecture and 
reprimanded them for having killed women and children: *. . . that 
wasn't right; that wasn't the deeds of brave men; that was the 
work of dogsP 

Pandemonium broke out in the ranks of the young warriors. 
They pushed forward. Assegais were brandished threateningly. 
Somabulane tried to silence them by a few sharp words of com- 
mand. He began a new formal speech with accusations that it had 
been the White Man who had started slaying women and children. 

Colenbrander became worried. He whispered to Rhodes that 
he should rather change the subject. Rhodes finally gave way: 
'Well, all that is over. And now you have come to make peace/ 
And all the indunas in unison once more gave assurances of peace. 

Triumphantly Rhodes returned to his camp. He had achieved 
what those military gentlemen, the experts, had believed to be 

[336] 



. . . ALL BUT THE BOILS 

possible only with an armed force of at least 5,000 men which 
would have cost him millions and millions. 

The next morning he sent Dr Saner and Stent to Bulawayo, to 
announce the conclusion of peace. They had to promise, however, 
to keep back the good news for several hours to enable Rhodes 
to cable his orders to the Stock Exchange before it became general 
knowledge. Even in the hour of triumph Rhodes did not neglect 
business! 

Rhodes invited several ladies from Bulawayo to his camp to 
attend the negotiations which still followed. On one occasion 
Lady Grey told Rhodes how much everyone admired the courage, 
patience and self-control which he had shown in those past trying 
weeks. Rhodes gazed up at the stars with a dreamy look, when 
he replied: 

* Well, well. I should like to be like Cincinnatus, who gave up 
a throne and went and grew cabbages. Such a peaceful life such 

a peaceful life And, believe me, I'd grow very good cabbages, 

too.' 

In the same philosophic vein he told his secretary while riding 
through the Matopos: 

'There is one thing I hope for you, and that is, that while still 
a young man, you may never have everything you want. Take 
myself, for instance: I am not an old man, and I don't think there 
is anything I want. Fve been P.M. of the Cape, there is De Beers 
and the railways, and there is a big country called after me, and 
I have more money than I can spend. You might ask: "But 
wouldn't you like to be P.M. again?" Well, I answer you very 
f a j r ly i should take it if it were offered to me, but certainly don't 
crave for it/ 

While waiting for the conclusion of negotiations Rhodes 
explored the Matopos. He was overwhelmed, when coming to 
the top of one of the highest hills, by the majestic beauty of the 
view. He liked to sit there add look at what he named *the 
World's Viewl' 

* . . When I die, I mean to be buried here, and I shall have the 
bones of those brave men who helped me take the country 
brought from Zimbabwe. 3 

When he saw the wealth of water rushing down the mountain 
in rivers and rivulets he immediately conceived the idea of harness- 
ing it and using it to irrigate parts of the 120,000 acres which 

[337] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

made up the farm he owned in the district. He gave orders to 
build a dam with a reservoir holding 50 million gallons of water 
to be completed in not longer than a year. He also investigated 
the chances of continuing his railway schemes. His technical 
adviser was told: * We propose now to go on and cross the centre 
just below the Victoria Falls. I should like to have the spray of 
the water over the carriages Imagine, sitting in one's compart- 
ment and the spray of the Falls splashing against the windows 
the train travelling through a curtain of spray of the Victoria 
Falls a curtain of spray of the Falls * 

Neither Rhodes nor Lord Grey had the right to conclude an 
official peace, as Chamberlain, fearing unpleasant surprises, had 
made the negotiations subject to the approval of the High Com- 
missioner. The Resident Commissioner, Sir Richard Martin, 
considered Rhodes' peace-terms too lenient and refused to give 
his consent. In a rough scene Rhodes declared to Martin that in 
the case of an official veto to his peace-terms Til go back to the 
Matabele and throw in my lot with them to carry through my 
policy of forgiveness. 5 

Martin gave up resistance and sealed the peace pact in a solemn 
indaba. 

Before Rhodes left Rhodesia towards the end of 1 896 he had to 
settle the claims of various settlers for damages suffered as a result 
of the war. On this mission he came to the Gwelo district. 
Enormous claims had been submitted there for what he knew to 
have been primitive huts. Rhodes wrote out cheques without ask- 
ing any questions, though he had to pay everything from his 
private pocket. Among the settlers he observed an old Scotsman, 
a blacksmith, who was standing quietly in a corner. Rhodes asked 
him: 'And what do I owe you?" 'Nothing; I've lost nothing/ 
'Write that man out a cheque for twenty-five pounds. He's the 
only man who told me the truth today/ 

There was still Grootboom to be rewarded. *You have done 
a great thing for me. What can I do for you?* 

*I would like a horse with a saddle and bridle, sir/ 

'You'll have much more than that/ 

*T don't want it. I want to go North to help the missionaries/ 

Rhodes was touched. He told one of the Company's secretaries: 

'Give Grootboom whenever he asks for it 100 acres of land, 
a wagon, a span of oxen, twelve cows, a horse and 

[338] 



*. . * ALL BUT THE BOILS* 

Grootboom still refused to accept the gift. Shortly afterwards 
he left Rhodesia and was never heard of again. When Rhodes 
heard of Grootboom' s departure he scribbled a few lines on an 
old envelope. After his death when his Last Will dealing with 
millions was opened, his friends were astonished to read of a 
legacy to one John Grootboom of *ioo acres of land, a wagon, 
a span. . . .' 

At the end of 1896, before leaving for England to attend tiie 
Committee of Inquiry, Rhodes went to the Cape in spite of the 
warnings of his friends that there might be demonstrations against 
him. Stepping on to the gangway at Port Elizabeth he noticed a 
black mass of people on the quay. Immediately he regretted not 
having listened to his friends' advice. 

Walking down the gangway, however, he was deafened by the 
cheers of thousands. They removed the horses from his carriage 
and forty men drew it to the Town Hall. 

The old Duke of Cambridge had told Rhodes shortly after the 
Raid: 'Never mind, my boy, you'll live it all down in five years' 
time/ Not even a year had passed and the people of the Cape 
were acclaiming him wildly. These demonstrations, and also those 
which followed in Kimberley and even in the citadel of Afrikaner- 
dom, Paarl, were spontaneous and sincere. They were not, how- 
ever, as Rhodes wished to believe, an expression of political 
sympathy. South Africans, no matter to which section of the 
populace they belong, have always the greatest respect and 
admiration for deeds of courage and determination, and the 
applause for Rhodes was meant as a sign of recognition for the 
outstanding bravery he had shown in facing unarmed the hordes 
of Matabele In the Matopos. 

In his first public speeches after his return Rhodes followed 
the recommendations of his friends by showing discretion and 
restraint. They feared demonstrations of protest in Cape Town, 
but his reception there was overwhelming. Rhodes, deeply moved, 
muttered: *It*s beautiful to see one's fellow-beings feel so kindly 

to one Such appreciation as this generally comes after a man 

is dead/ 

Friends had arranged a private luncheon-party for him in 
which also a few of his former political followers participated. 
With great anxiety they awaited Rhodes* speech, his first political 

[339] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

utterance since the Raid, from which they expected a clarification 
of his attitude towards the Raid. Their expectations were sur- 
passed. Rhodes acknowledged his fault: 

... I do not so much regret joining in an attempt to force President 
Kruger into a juster and more reasonable policy . . . but what has 
been a burden to me is that I was Prime Minister at the time, and 
that I had given a promise that I 'would not do anything incom- 
patible with the joint position I held as Director of the Chartered 
Company and Premier of the Cape Colony. On every ground I was 
bound to resign if I took such a course as assisting in a revolution 
against an officially friendly State; and I did not. 

Here Rhodes made a long and dramatic pause. The tension 
among his listeners became evident. Some leaned forward so that 
not a single word should be lost. Rhodes continued in a softer 
voice and speaking extremely slowly: 

I can only say that I will do my best to make atonement for my 
error by untiring devotion to the best interests of South Africa. 

Thunderous applause followed. Rhodes promised, since the 
speech had been 'off the record', to repeat his 'confession of error 
and promise of atonement' at a public meeting in the City Hall 
the same night. 

The wild enthusiasm and flattering words of welcome had 
intoxicated Rhodes. Not once did he look at the notes which he 
had put on the table when he started to speak at the City Hall. 
After the applause which greeted his words, repeated from his 
first speech after the Raid in Kimberley, that 'his public life was 
not, as some people had believed, at an end but was just begin- 
ning*, he seemed to forget everything around him. 

It was the old Rhodes, unrepenting, aggressive and obstinate. 
Defiantly he accused Kruger of suppressing the Uitlanders and 
threatened him with vengeance. This part of his speech did not 
arouse as much angry comment as did, especially in England, his 
phrase: *I am going home to face the unctuous rectitude of my 
countrymen. , . / 

Did he not say once that he never prepared a speech and could 
not the expression 'unctuous rectitude' be excused as having 
merely slipped from his tongue? 'No, no,' replied Rhodes with 
a wink, 'that I had ready three days before I spoke/ 

[340] 



CHAPTER XVII 

UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

MOST of the first-class cabins on the mailship Dunvegan Castle 
bound for England from South Africa at the beginning of 
January 1897 were unoccupied. The passengers missed the usual 
gaiety on board and by the time the ship approached the Equator 
everyone had become too lazy to do anything but gossip* With 
a number of eminent people on board such as 'the two multi- 
millionaires' Rhodes and Beit, a Cabinet Minister Mr *WilF 
Schreiner, his sister the world-famous South African authoress 
Olive Schreiner, and the redoubtable Dr Rutherford Harris, 
sufficient variety of gossip was assured. 

The trip also provided something strongly reminiscent of those 
exciting adventures of Sherlock Holmes running in the Strand 
Magazine at the time. Olive Schreiner had spent most of the 
journey lying alone in a deck-chair on the upper deck. Everyone 
on board was therefore astonished when one morning the stout 
little woman came tripping along breathlessly and stormed the 
bridge. Flourishing her sunshade she made straight for the 
captain. From her frantic tale he gathered that someone had 
burgled her cabin, had forced open one of her trunks and stolen 
from it the manuscript of her latest work, Tirooper Peter Halket of 
Mashonaland* And she knew, she said, she knew for certain that 
no one could have committed the crime except one of Mr Rhodes* 
henchmen, since only he was interested in suppressing this book 
with its sensational disclosures of the murder, the rape, the 
robbery and the injustice committed by Mr Rhodes' gang of 
marauders in Mashonaland. Soothingly the captain suggested that 
before any steps were taken a thorough search should be made of 
all her luggage. Stewards unpacked her large trunk, on the bottom 
of which, she said, she had put the manuscript before she left 
home. Nothing was found. There was some more luggage but 
she ridiculed the idea of finding the book there. Finally some 
other trunks were opened. At the bottom of one of her smaller 
bags the manuscript was found and handed to her. f He must 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

have put it there as soon as he learnt that I had found him out/ 
she said. Nothing would convince her that no one could have 
tampered with the lock, 'Young man, you don't know with what 
sort of people we've to deal/ 

After this incident Olive Schreiner explained to a few sympa- 
thetic listeners that she felt it her Christian duty to expose Cecil 
Rhodes, of whom her Peter Halket said: 'He's death on niggers, 
is Rhodes! . . * And she quoted to them from her book: 'Why, if 
God Almighty came [to Mashonaland] and hadn't half a million 
in shares, they wouldn't think much of him.' 

Between their whiskies the passengers whispered what an 
extraordinary woman this Olive Schreiner was. There was a time 
when she had adored Rhodes as the saviour of South Africa. The 
fact that Olive Schreinet was not on speaking terms with her 
brother Will also aroused much comment. She took no notice 
of him though he was observed to be trying hard to approach 
her. It had not escaped observation either, that the relationship 
between Rhodes and his former colleague Schreiner was of a 
peculiar nature. It was amusing to watch how Schreiner, whenever 
he saw Rhodes coming in his direction, quickly walked away to 
another part of the ship. 

Schreiner, always upright and true, was still struggling with 
his conscience whether to abandon his love for Rhodes. Politically 
he had completely divorced himself from Rhodes, but he still 
believed that he might remain friends with him. Lately strong 
doubts about Rhodes' personal honesty had gnawed at him: 
Rhodes, 'gaming with men's lives and the fate of a country', 
would, as he had been told recently, have made gigantic profits 
if the Raid had gone according to plan. If these suspicions about 
Rhodes' financial interest in the Raid proved to be true, then 
Rhodes would cease to exist for him also as a person. He purposely 
avoided Rhodes because to his lawyer's mind it appeared unseemly 
as a witness at the coming inquiry that he should expose himself 
to being perhaps unconsciously influenced by Rhodes. 

Rhodes, however, was in high spirits. In his ears there still 
lingered the ovations he had received at a civic reception in 
Cape Town. It was music to his love-thirsty soul to hear the 
Mayor end his speech with the words: * We, as friends, say to our 
guest, "You have done great things for Africa and we want you 
back again!"' 

[342] 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

No, Rhodes was not worried. Every day he rehearsed with 
Dr Harris, Garrett and his two secretaries answers to possible 
questions at the Inquiry. 

As soon as he arrived in London, however, Rhodes seemed to 
show signs of nervousness. During the first few days he calmed 
down, at least outwardly, and even became a little boisterous 
when he proudly announced: *AU the bus drivers touched their 
hats to me. So I know I am all right.' But his friends knew better. 
Rhodes was far from popular in England and they therefore asked 
him again to declare that the phrase 'unctuous rectitude' had been 
a misunderstanding and that what he had said was in fact 'anxious 
rectitude'. *No/ Rhodes replied, *I am going to stick to the 
"unctuous rectitude"/ 

He became angry when Garrett suggested that before the 
Inquiry began he should express his regrets about the Raid: 
Tve already said so much; but I'm not going on saying it, and 
crawling in the dust to please you or anybody. So I told some 
Dutch constituents of mine who made advance, after abusing one 
like a pickpocket at the time. "Oh/' they said, "do say you 
repentl Only tell us you repent!" "That's my business/* I 
answered. I know what my idea was no race feeling at all 
and what my motive was; and it all went wrong, and I and others 
made mistakes, and that's all about it/ 

All Rhodes' friends, such as Rosebery, Wyndham and 
Rothschild, tried privately to use their influence on Chamberlain 
to drop the Inquiry at the last minute. Immediately after his 
arrival Rhodes went to see Chamberlain. For two hours and 
twenty minutes they hurled threats, reproaches and accusations 
at each other. Chamberlain, possibly fearing that misinterpreta- 
tions of his words might follow or that Rhodes would once again 
resort to blackmail, insisted on having the Colonial Under- 
secretary, Lord Selborne, a son-in-kw of Lord Salisbury's, 
present at the interview, 

Rhodes, full of his old self-assurance, told Chamberlain with 
his usual haughtiness that it would be best for all concerned if 
the whole Committee were scrapped. It was no longer necessary, 
he said, since the Cape inquiry had completely exhausted the issue. 

Trying as a last resort to take Chamberlain c oti the personal*, 
he came forward with one of his virtuoso pieces: 

*. . . What is my reputation or your reputation compared with 

[343] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

the interests of the country? In twenty years you'll be gone, 
snuffed out, but the country will remain. . . / 

Chamberlain, himself far too accomplished in the art of playing 
on other people's emotions, coldly told Rhodes that it was 
impossible to scrap the Inquiry, since its abandonment would 
cause greater harm to the country than if it took place. 

His real reasons, which Chamberlain did not reveal to him, had 
nothing to do with Rhodes. Chamberlain needed the Inquiry in 
order to clear himself of the charges, which had turned from 
whispered rumours into loud accusations, that he had not only 
sanctioned the Raid but had been its real instigator. The Liberal 
papers said so very plainly. Some verses by Sir Wilfred Lawson 
threw Chamberlain into a rage: 

If Jameson makes a wicked raid, 

And strikes a treacherous blow, 
On searching records, I'm afraid 

You'll find it worked by 'Joe'. 

If bullying Kruger is the scheme, 

At which we're never slow, 
The wretched business, it would seem, 

Is all arranged by 'Joe*. 

Lord Salisbury was an old, sickly man. Chamberlain saw his 
great chance and was determined that it should not escape him. 
Premier of England? As such, an unblemished political reputation 
was necessary. He would see to it that he came out of the Inquiry 
immaculate, no matter what happened to that 'blackmailing 
blackguard'. 

When Rhodes left the Colonial Office, his face purple and his 
hair dishevelled, his secretary knew that a stortn was brewing. 
On the way home Rhodes threw his top-hat on the floor of the 
carriage and with a deep sigh said to himself: 'The man who wrote 
"It is possible for a new country to be connected by cable too soon 
with Downing Street" knew well what he was talking about/ 

When he got back to his hotel he found Dr Jameson's old 
servant awaiting him. He had come unknown to his master, who 
had been released from prison before his time was up because of 
sickness. The doctor was fretting as Mr Rhodes had neither 
visited him nor sent a message. 'And*, added the servant, 'I 

[344] 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

thought I should let you know, but please, Dr Jameson must not 
hear that I came to you.* 

Rhodes jumped into his carriage. His eyes glistened suspiciously 
when, standing at the doctor's bedside, he clasped his thin hand 
and said: 'Both of us have had a rough time, but you had a rougher 
time than I!' 

The Grand Committee Room in the Palace of Westminster, 
where the Inquiry took place beginning on Friday, 5 February 
1897, and continuing for the next five months, was cold and bare. 
The only spot of colour was contributed by a huge map of Africa 
on one of the yawning white walls. On one side of the room was 
a long, horseshoe-shaped table with numerous chairs around it, 
a single small table the 'dock* in the middle and behind it the 
table of the counsel for the 'defence*. 

In the back of the hall, a large space had been allotted to the 
Press. A few seats were reserved for the Peers, in the front row 
of which the Prince of Wales, spruce and elegant as always and 
appearing rather tired from the strain of the night before, could 
be seen passing his time in chatting to the right and left as he 
waited for the Committee to arrive. Just like the Lords Rosebery 
and Rothschild next to him, he seemed to consider the whole 
business of the Inquiry a huge joke. 

When the sixteen members of the Committee had finally taken 
their seats the air immediately became charged with electrifying 
tension. Stead, sitting in the front row, whispered to his former 
apprentice Garrett: 'Over the door of this room they should have 
inscribed the words of the American statesman W. J. Bryan: 
"You shall not crucify mankind on a Cross of Gold!"' 

When the Chairman called upon the Right Honourable Cecil 
John Rhodes to take his seat as witness at the small table, those 
who had known him in the days of his glory only eighteen months 
before were shocked. Others who had never seen him before 
were bitterly disappointed. Why, was this indeed Mr Rhodes, the 
multi-millionaire, the 'uncrowned King of Africa*, the Colossus', 
the man whom the African Natives had dubbed 'the man who 
swallows countries for his breakfast*, who 'thought in continents*, 
the ruler over South Africa's diamonds and gold, the 'Elizabethan 
prodigy*, the man who had boasted that he could 'square* anybody, 
the conqueror of half a continent, the great Empire-builder! 

[345] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

The unfavourable Impression was increased when Rhodes read 
a declaration in his squeaky voice, jumping from one leg to the 
other and reading so quickly that he stumbled over words and 
sometimes became almost inaudible. The statement was not very 
elucidating and consisted mostly of generalities. Only at the end 
did he gain any attention. 

... I must admit that in all my actions I was greatly influenced by 
my belief that the policy of the present Government of the South 
African Republic was to introduce the influence of another foreign 
Power into the already complicated system of South Africa, and 
thereby render more difficult in the future the closer union of the 
different states, 

Harcourt smiled. Labouchere sneered. Chamberlain, monocle 
in his eye, seemed engrossed in a file. 'The German bogy once 
again', a foreign journalist commented to his neighbour under 
his breath. Rhodes, in spite of his daily practice during his voyage 
to England, cut a deplorable figure under cross-examination. His 
'usual grandeur or grandiosity of self-assurance* was gone. His 
answers were evasive, verbose and not to the point. When driven 
into a tight corner he often replied sharply: 'You want an answer. 
Well, I think you had better get it from the High Commissioner.' 

The lunch hour arrived. So as not to lose time the Committee 
did not adjourn but had light refreshments served on trays from 
the buffet of the House. In front of Rhodes was placed a meagre 
ham sandwich decoratively sprinkled with a a few leaves of 
cress, and a large tankard of foaming stout. Everyone's eyes were 
focused on Rhodes who munched his sandwich unconcernedly 
and took long draughts of beer with obvious enjoyment. His 
pleasure in so simple a repast immediately won him the sympathy 
of people who had probably fancied that a multi-millionaire fed 
exclusively on caviare and champagne. Even the ever-hostile 
'Labby' remarked: C I hate the sight of this Jerry Empire builder, 
but I can't help liking his ham sandwich and tankard of stout.' 

After the luncheon interval Rhodes seemed to undergo a 
complete change in his behaviour and attitude and even in his 
physical appearance. It was as if he had taken off his coat, pulled 
up his sleeves and said: come, now, let us fight this thing out. 
During lunch he had studied the faces of the men who were 
sitting in judgment over him. The shadow of a smile had flitted 

[346] 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

over bis face. la the evening he explained to friends: 'Looking 
at those faces I could not help thinking that there was not a single 
man among them who in Africa wouldn't be my subordinate.' 

Rhodes quickly gained the upper hand. He seemed to be trying 
to take the whole Committee 'on the personal' by ingratiating 
remarks of repentance such as: 'I dare say it's morally wrong.* 
He emphasized that he wished to take full responsibility for all 
that had happened but that he could not have known all the details, 
busy as he had been in his triple position: 

... so that if some of my answers appear to be evasive, I may say 
they are not evasive through my shirking of responsibility; they are 
only evasive because I do not remember the particular telegrams; 
probably they were not submitted to me; but yet I do not wish to 
say I repudiate responsibility for them at all. 

Whenever an awkward question was asked, Rhodes would 
reply: 'That's a fair question a very fair question/ but his 
answer would nevertheless be non-committal. When Harcourt 
referred to the 'manufactured revolution' Rhodes appeared 
indignant. 'Well/ Harcourt retorted calmly, 'we'll call it a sub- 
sidized revolution.' When a question became too embarrassing 
for him Rhodes would ask for time to refresh his memory and the 
Committee would, of course, never receive the answer. A certain 
telegram? *Oh, it may seem absurd to you, but I haven't read the 
Blue Book containing the correspondence quoted.' 

He was as smooth as an eel and at times it was amusing to 
watch how he played with the Committee. Harcourt, referring to 
the 'order given to Dr Jameson a day before the Raid to "secure 
telegraphic office silence*", wanted to know what it meant. 
Rhodes replied: 'I do not know what it means. It seems absurd, 
doesn't it?' This was too much for Harcourt, who shouted angrily: 
'It is not at all absurd, Mr Rhodes, because it was the thing that 
was done.' 

What about certain telegrams allegedly implicating the Colonial 
Office? *Oh, , these telegrams. . . . They are in the hands of my 
legal advisers. . . ." Rhodes would not allow them to be produced; 
he stated that he would refuse to answer questions which might 
prejudice a third party and, besides, he added with a smile, he 
really did not remember their contents. 

[347] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Here would have been a chance for Rhodes to exonerate him- 
self. By tabling the telegrams incriminating Chamberlain he could 
prove that he had acted not only in conjunction with the Colonial 
Office but as an agent of the Government. Why then did Rhodes 
make every effort not to involve Chamberlain in the Raid and 
the Johannesburg revolt? What made Rhodes play guardian angel 
to the Colonial Secretary instead of using him as a scapegoat? 
These were questions that were on everyone's lips. 

The Committee swallowed Rhodes' evasions and all his circum- 
locutions, evident untruths, and direct lies without the slightest 
attempt from any side to throw light on the matter. 

On the third day Harcourt gave up in disgust. Labouchere now 
stepped in. Labopchere's hatred for Rhodes was well known. In 
his journal he had never minced words, as could be seen from the 
damages and fines he had to pay regularly for libel suits. Now at 
the Inquiry, under the protection of his parliamentary immunity, 
an even greater unloading of dirt was expected. 

Labouchere's cross-examination resembled 'the act of an 
infuriated bull-terrier who barked at a cat sitting behind a gate 
and was so occupied with his vocal efforts that he failed to see 
the open gate by which he might have caught his feline enemy'. 

He asked Rhodes do2ens of questions about the financial aspects 
of the Raid which might have brought some elucidating replies. 
Often Labouchere was on the tight track, but he was no match 
for Rhodes, who was able to answer such questions and yet say 
nothing. Thus he replied to Labouchere: 'Yes, I had sold 
Chartered shares before the Raid, because I needed money for 
my railway and telegraph lines. Surely there was nothing wrong 
in selling shares?' It did not occur to Labouchere to demand that 
Rhodes should produce his private bank accounts or to summon 
through the Stock Exchange all those brokers who had sold and 
bought shares on behalf of Rhodes and his friends. 

Rhodes did not waver in refusing to answer questions con- 
cerning the suppressed telegrams. Labouchere lost his temper. 

'Mr Rhodes, at the commencement of your examination you 
took an oath to tell not only the truth but the whole truth/ 

Rhodes, with an expression of great astonishment: 'Did I?* 

'Yes, you did, Mr Rhodes.' 

'Well, it would depend upon the powers of the Committee. 
As to this point of making statements which would bring in the 

[348] 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

names and affect the positions of third parties, I've thought about 
it very carefully, and I do not think I am justified in answering 
that. . . / 

Labouchere gave up. Later when the ordeal was over Rhodes 
no longer felt any malice towards Tabby". He told Stead: *Labby 
fills for me the role of a court jester in olden times. . . . He is my 
court jester, and he does his fooling with a will; and what is more, 
so far as I am concerned, free, gratis and for nothing/ 

When they saw that neither Harcourt, the great lawyer, nor 
Labouchere, the great hater, could get anything out of Rhodes, 
the Committee dismissed Rhodes. Everyone was apparently 
relieved. 

For six days Rhodes had sat in the witness chair, having 
answered about 2,000 questions. His last triumph had come at 
the end when he addressed the Committee in words of heavy 
sarcasm dressed in a coating of urbane politeness: 

* Would you like to have me up again? I'll be happy to come, 
but you must remember that my work in Rhodesia keeps me very 
busy/ 

He was not asked to appear again. They had had quite enough 
of him. When he came home to his hotel on the last day Dr 
Sauer asked him why everyone, even members of the Opposition, 
were treating him so leniently, hardly ever putting questions to 
him which might compromise certain persons. Rhodes smiled 
when he told Sauer: 

'They dare not do it; we also have a cat in the bag which, if 
we let it out, would show that one of their big men knew all 
about it/ 

The 'big man* was not Chamberlain but Lord Rosebery, with 
whom Rhodes, at a time when the Liberals were stiU in power 
and Rosebery was Prime Minister, had discussed the planned 
Raid. Rosebery had probably warned Harcourt about the possi- 
bility that the former Liberal Government might be dragged in 
by Rhodes if Rhodes were pressed too hard. 

Beit was the next witness. He cut a most pathetic figure, with 
his nerves on edge and always on the point of either crying or 
fainting. For one who had always shunned publicity, this public 
exposure was a great ordeal and turned into real torture once 
Labouchere began to turn on the thumb-sctews of his cross- 
examination. Yet Labby failed once more, since he either indulged 

[349] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

in generalities to which he could expect no concrete answer from 
the witness, or went into details without knowing how to extract 
the truth. 

General amusement followed when Dr Rutherford Harris 
appeared in the witness chair and told such tall stories that the 
Committee, although already accustomed to perjured testimony, 
was amazed. And whenever it suited his purpose he hid behind 
his 'defective memory', 

Harcourt had to summon all his powers of self-control to 
express in parliamentary language the Committee's disgust with 
this permanent perjurer: *I suppose,. Dr Harris, that you would 
rather not state the exact fractions of what you call truth and of 
what is not truth in this evidence of yours?* 

Even Flora Shaw allowed her esprit de corps and her loyalty to 
Rhodes and to Chamberlain to cause her a sudden loss of memory. 
In spite of her telegrams to Rhodes in which she had given him 
Chamberlain's messages, she now declared on oath that 'she never 
at any time gave the Colonial Office information about the plan 
and never at any time received information from the Colonial 
Office about the plan'. 

Her evidence as well as that of the other witnesses had been 
well prepared beforehand. Flora Shaw had discussed her evidence 
at some length with Chamberlain and had also been briefed by 
Dr Harris. At the end of that day's sitting Harcourt whispered 
to Chamberlain: 'Rhodes is not really a clever man, or he would 
not have trusted his fate to Dr Rutherford Harris and Flora Shawl' 

Rhodes and his friends hoped to tire out the Committee, so 
that it would one day adjourn sine die without ever issuing a report 
on its findings. The longer the Inquiry lasted the more it moved 
away from the real subject of investigation to wit, the Raid and 
its instigator and centred instead on Chamberlain and his part 
in it. 

How far would Chamberlain stick out his neck? that was the 
burning question on everyone's lips when he was called to the 
witness chair. He categorically denied all knowledge of the Raid: 
he had known only that a spontaneous and justified rising of the 
malcontent Uitlanders was expected to take place. No collabora- 
tion from his side with Rhodes or any of Rhodes' men! 

Chamberlain had no alternative but to perjure himself. Accord- 
ing to a secret agreement with Rhodes he could not attack Rhodes 

[350] 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

without bringing on a revengeful disclosure of his implication in 
the Raid. The sword of Damocles was hanging over his head 
ready to drop at Rhodes* command and end the political life of 
Joseph Chamberlain. So as to save his career Chamberlain had 
willingly bought Rhodes' discretion for a promise not to deprive 
him of the Charter and his Privy Councillorship. 

Not only did Chamberlain have to whitewash himself but he 
also had to clear the Colonial Office of the charge of active con- 
spiracy. Nothing was easier for 'Judas'. He had found his scape- 
goats. So as to save face for the Colonial Office he sacrificed three 
innocent men: Sir Robert Meade, the chief Permanent Under- 
secretary of State for the Colonies, and Chamberlain's right-hand 
man; Sir Graham Bower, the Imperial Secretary to the High 
Commissioner, both old and merited Civil Service men; and 
Rhodes* old friend Captain Newton, the Commissioner of 
Bechuanaland, 

Sir Robert Meade, as well as old Sir Hercules Robinson, were 
excused from appearing as witnesses because of illness. Since 
Meade had conducted most of the talks with Flora Shaw and 
Dr Harris on Chamberlain's behalf, Chamberlain was happy to 
have someone to blame for all the indiscretions committed by the 
Colonial Office. Meade through his absence was unable to con- 
tradict Chamberlain when he said that he knew nothing about 
the negotiations between Meade and Rhodes* party. 

Bower became a victim of his loyalty to Rhodes, He had given 
him his word of honour before the Raid to keep all his knowledge 
of the preliminary conversations and reports absolutely secret. 
Bower was a man of honour who would never break his word. 
For the same reason of loyal decency he also refused to com- 
promise his chief, the High Commissioner, and also refrained 
from testifying as a Crown witness against his highest superior, 
the Colonial Secretary, 

Before the Inquiry Bower had pleaded with Rhodes to have 
out all the truth so as to save his, Bower's, reputation, but Rhodes 
had refused to *give away the man [Chamberlain] who tried to do 
more to help him than any other Colonial Secretary', adding 
*FU tell no Hes. Mr Chamberlain can do his own lying if he pleases. 
That's not my afEairF 

They certainly all lied amply in the end to protect each other 
according to their agreement. No one on the Committee had the 

[35*] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

bright idea of asking for the files of the Colonial Office to be 
laid on the table of the Committee, a procedure which would 
have cleared up many doubtful points. Everyone did his best to 
suppress the truth* 

The dramatic climax to the proceedings came when Rhodes* 
lawyer Hawkesley appeared before the Committee and was told 
by the Chairman: 'We therefore call on you, Mr Hawkesley, to 
produce the telegrams/ 

Not a sound could be heard until Hawkesley pronounced in 
a determined voice: 

*I can only say, with very great respect. ... I still feel that my 
duty compels me to act upon the instructions I have received 
from Mr Rhodes ... to make these telegrams not available. . . .* 

The Committee had full powers to compel Rhodes to return to 
London and to send him and Hawkesley to the Clock Tower for 
an indefinite period until they gave up the telegrams. It would 
have been still easier to have summoned the cable company to 
supply copies. 

The Committee had two good reasons for not insisting on 
bringing the telegrams to light. If they had used force Rhodes 
would have become the great martyr & most undesirable result. 
Only recently, it was reported, he had quoted with a salvo of his 
ear-splitting staccato laughter, the words of Oliver Wendell 
Holmes, thatit was not perhaps so difficult to knock a man down, 
but that the trouble was the man might get up and give his assailant 
a thrashing. Moreover, foreign politics made it imperative that 
under no circumstances should any facts connecting the British 
Government with the Raid become known in view of Salisbury's 
and the Queen's denials. Britain's position in foreign politics was 
far from satisfactory and complications were expected in several 
quarters. 

The English Press could not be expected to grasp what was 
going on behind the scenes of the Committee Room. Especially 
in the Liberal papers, but also in Conservative circles, people 
expressed their astonishment at the Infamy of the prolonged 
masquerade of an inquiry, tempered by mendacity*. Everyone 
had the impression and they were not far wrong that 'efforts 
were being made to prevent the truth being brought to light*. 

It was no easy task for Harcourt, who referred to the Inquiry 
as 'the most demoralizing transaction in the 60 years' reign 9 , 

[352] 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 



to draft the Report of the Committee after it had been sitting 
for five months. He endeavoured, as he wrote to Chamberlain, 
to 'put the matter as regards yourself and the telegrams in a 
shape which I hope you will find satisfactory 5 . About Rhodes, 
'that arch-liar', he had not changed his opinion: c . . . the mendacity 
of the man is sickening. . . / 

All members of the Committee had agreed that it would be 
best to terminate the whole matter as quickly as possible before 
it developed into something like a British Dreyfus Case. Harcourt 
and Chamberlain thus concocted a verdict for the Committee 
Report which would satisfy political demands and calm down the 
public while at the same time it would give Rhodes no cause to 
continue his vendetta by blackmail. It contained a strong censure 
of Rhodes for his activities in the Johannesburg revolt, affirmed 
his moral responsibility for the Raid and condemned his deception 
of the High Commissioner. 

The Report also contained a full exoneration of Sir Hercules 
Robinson, who for having kept his mouth shut so diplomatically 
was raised to the peerage with the title of Lord Rosmead. It gave 
Chamberlain and the Colonial Office a clean bill of health, 
condemning instead poor Sir Graham Bower. Only Labouchere 
dissented and presented a Minority Report in which he was able 
to give vent to his feelings. Though many of his colleagues^ on 
the Committee agreed with him, they found his condemnation 
of Rhodes expressed somewhat harshly: *. . . he abused the high 
positions which he held by engaging in a conspiracy in the success 
of which his own pecuniary interests were largely involved*. 

The report of the Commission was not the end of the cause 
ctKbrt. On 26 July a debate on the Colonial Estimates provided 
an opportunity for a discussion on the findings of the Inquiry, 
There had been rumours that exciting surprises might be expected: 
that the Radical members would refuse to accept the Report and 
would move for the withdrawal of the Charter from Rhodes* 
Company, for the cancellation of Rhodes* P.C. and for orders to 
call Hawkesley to the Bar of the House to produce the missing 

cables. 

The debate showed that the attack by the Radicals was really 
aimed at the renegade from their ranks, Chamberlain, the 'Judas*. 
Harcourt, on the other hand, defended Chamberlain but refused 
to spare Rhodes: \ . . You cannot say as the Roman Emperor 

[353] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

said, non o/ef; there Is a noisome odour of the Stock Exchange 
about it. ... It is a squalid and sordid picture of stock-jobbing 
imperialism . . . privateers . . . these unscrupulous men who have 
deceived everybody, who have ruined the character of the British 
nation for honesty and fair dealing. . . .* 

All eyes were fixed on Chamberlain. He sat, as usual, in 
sartorial elegance, with his eyes closed* He was certainly not 
asleep, and several people in the House knew only too well what 
thoughts were probably keeping the Right Honourable Gentle- 
man wide awake. In the morning he had been warned that a 
certain Member (Maguire) would take the ominous telegrams to 
the House. He would keep them in his pocket, to be laid on the 
Table of the House at a given signal from a friend of Rhodes* in 
the gallery probably Hawkesley in case Chamberlain and his 
Party did not repel any attempts by the Opposition against 
Rhodes' Charter, his P.C. and his honour. 

By now, however, a great number of members of the Opposi- 
tion had been persuaded .by Harcourt's criminologistic reasoning 
that the mysterious telegrams were nothing but one of Rhodes' 
dirty tricks, as was explained in a clause in the Committee^ 
Report on the insertion of which Harcourt had insisted: 

Your Committee fully accept the statements of the Secretary of 
State for the Colonies and of the Under Secretary, and entirely 
exonerate the officials of the Colonial Office of having been, in any 
sense, cognisant of the plans which led up to the incursion of Dr 
Jameson's force into the South African Republic. It is clear from 
the evidence of Mr Hawkesley, and his letter of 5 February 1896, 
that the telegrams in question conveyed the impression that the 
action of Mr Rhodes was known and approved at the Colonial 
Office. The fact that Mr Rhodes (after having authorized that they 
should be shown to Mr Chamberlain) has refused to allow them to 
be produced before the Committee leads to the conclusion that he 
is aware that any statements purporting to implicate the Colonial 
Office contained in them were unfounded, and the use made of them 
in support of his action in South Africa was not justified. It cannot 
reasonably be doubted, having regard to the use already made of 
these telegrams, that they would have been produced to your Com- 
mittee if their contents could in any way have relieved Mr Rhodes 
or his subordinates from the responsibility now attaching to them* 
Chamberlain did not very often use notes. This time when he 
rose to speak he took out of his pocket a whole sheaf of closely 

[3543 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

written pages. In the dim light of the House the colour of his 
complexion resembled that of old parchment. 

It was certainly one of the greatest speeches ever rendered in 
a place which had been the scene of some of the finest oratory. 
Chamberlain was fighting for his political life. His future was at 
stake. The prize was Britain's premiership. He did not struggle 
wildly like a drowning man. His strokes at the beginning were 
composed, skilful, and moderate. And when he at last saw land, 
he lashed out at those who were responsible for his cold immer- 
sion. His speech was constructed like a Shakespearian monologue 
with the main theme of his innocence pronounced in different 
keys and various modulations, finally reaching the dramatic 
climax with the fanfare-call: 

... It is impossible to suppose if you think me such a fool, that 
any English minister could be such a knave as to do what is attributed 
to me ... that I was myself a party to the Raid, and approved the 
policy of which the Raid was a part. . . . 

The House remained surprisingly calm and only a few cheers 
were heard. They were waiting for Chamberlain's attitude towards 
the demand of punishment for Rhodes. It had of course been 
expected that he would refuse to support the motion of the 
Radicals, but even his intimate followers were surprised that he 
should motivate his refusal by whitewashing nay, by paying 
tribute to Rhodes, the man who in the Report of the Committee, 
signed by Chamberlain, had been declared indirectly *a liar, a 
coward and a blackmailer'. Now Chamberlain maintained that 
'there has been nothing proved and in my opinion there exists 
nothing which affects Mr Rhodes' personal position as a man 
of honour. . . / 

Harcourt was in a rage over this betrayal. Other Liberals con- 
sidered this triumph of Rhodes over Chamberlain the saddest 
hour in Britain's parliamentary history. It did not help. The 
'Chartered Libertines' had carried a victory over political morality. 
The motion of the Radicals was defeated by a majority of 304 

to<77 " 

In the evening after his oratorical performance, Chamberlain 

tried to explain to some of his intimates, or rather to excuse, his 
Incomprehensible canonisation of Rhodes, after having only 
recently called him openly a 'blackmailer, blackguard and traitor*: 

[555] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

'Have yon and others thought what would be the consequences 
of driving Rhodes to the wall? If in his desperation he joined 
forces, with the extreme Dutch element and took advantage of 
the prejudice so easily aroused against the "unctuous rectitude" 
of a British Government, we could hardly keep the Cape Colony 
without a war. Is it worth while to risk this for the satisfaction 
of depriving Rhodes of the barren honour of his P.C?* 

England's prestige abroad, as a result of the parliamentary 
comedy of the Inquiry, had suffered a set-back more serious than 
that of losing a war. Le Temps wrote: 

The Committee sacrifices everything including the honour of 
England, to its desire to preserve the reputation of that meddlesome 
and imperious statesman [Chamberlain]. The evil is "wrought and 
irreparable. It is now proved that the Queen's Government has 
plotted in time of peace the invasion of a friendly country, and that 
there is no majority in Great Britain to condemn the crime. It is the 
apotheosis of the Birmingham statesman; it is also the abdication 
of the conscience of Great Britain. , . . 

In Germany Parliament and Press jubilated over 'Perfidious 
Albion* which was 'now facing bankruptcy of the Parliamentary 
System*. The Berliner National Zeitung summarized the general 
opinion in the country: 

... If in England they are content with this procedure [of the 
Inquiry], the fact will not be without importance in the world's 
eyes as indicating the measure of morality which obtains in English 
politics as soon as the extension of English territory comes into 
question. 

Also in Russia voices were raised in indignation. The Moscow 
Gazette spoke of 'this scandalous and disgraceful sham of investi- 
gation*, which *is instructive illustration of the fact that in 
England's Parliament the end justifies the means*. 

Hofmeyr indicated his contempt with delicate restraint: 

The whole finish of the Enquiry is deplorable and disappointing 
especially in view of the loyal attitude of the Bond and of the Dutch 
generally in the time of the Jubilee. All we asked, all we wanted, was 
fair play, not vindictive punishment. The Dutch belief in English 
fair play, in Imperial thoroughness and impartiality, has received 
a serious shock. . . . The Commons have decided for continued 
suspicion instead of a clear and honest understanding. 

[356] 



UNCTUOUS RECTITUDE 

The English Press, in as far as it was not bound by party 
loyalty, condemned the way in which the Inquiry had been 
conducted. The Westminster Budget published an amusing epitaph 
on the Inquiry: 

It respected confidences, it discovered the obvious, it avoided the 
obscure, it compromised no man . . . fortified by unctuous rectitude 
and unsuspicious disposition, it was unsparing of whitewash . . . 
dyed in the odour of inanity. . . . Let resignations wait. . . . 

The Investor's ILeview surpassed even Labouchere in its vitupera- 
tions: 

Mr Cecil Rhodes as 'unctuous rebel' . . . the unscrupulous master 
of the Jameson bullybumpkins. . . . The brutal insolence of their 
hero's conduct, his obvious determination to browbeat home 
opinion . . . disgusted all honourable men. This was not at all the 
kind of behaviour they looked for in the man their overheated 
imagination had endowed 'with all manly virtues. Englishmen do 
not object to a little dignity even in their freebooters and Rhodes 
exhibited himself far too much in the unsavoury part of a sort of 
bar-tender braggart masquerading as rebel for all but the strongest 
stomached or best paid of his supports to be other than shocked. . . . 

On the Stock Exchange many jokes were cracked about the 
'Committee of No-Inquiry' which, during its long session, had 
destroyed only one reputation, its own. 

These opinions, censures and judgments of Rhodes were for 
the most part prompted by party political considerations, 
influenced by national motives or blackened by purely personal 
vindictiveness. It is therefore interesting to hear the opinion of 
a famous man, trained as a journalist and experienced as a writer. 
Mark Twain, the great American author, came to South Africa 
at a time when Rhodes' star was already waning and it was left 
to him to write the best sketch of this strange comet which 
passed over South Africa for about three decades, changing the 
political, economic and social face of a whole continent. In More 
Tramps Abroad Mark Twain wrote: 

I know quite well that whether Rhodes is the lofty and worshipful 
patriot and statesman that multitudes believe him to be, or Satan 
come again, as the rest of the world account him, he is still the most 
imposing figure in the British Empire outside England. When he 
stands on the Cape his shadow falls to the Zambezi. . . . 

[357] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

That he is an extraordinary man and not an accident of fortune, 
not even his dearest South African enemies were willing to deny. 
The whole South African world seemed to stand in a kind of 
shuddering awe; friend and enemy alike: it was as if he were deputy 
God on the one side, deputy Satan on the other, proprietor of the 
people, able to make them or ruin them by his breath, worshipped 
by many, hated by many, but blasphemed by none among the 
judicious, and even by the indiscreet in guarded whispers only. 

What is the secret of his formidable supremacy? One says it is 
his prodigious wealth . , . ; another says it is his personal magnetism 
. . . ; another says it is his majestic ideas, his vast scheme for the 
territorial aggrandisement of England, his patriotic and unselfish 
ambition to spread her beneficent protection and her just rule over 
the pagan wastes of Africa . . . ; and another says he wants the earth 
and wants it for his own and that the belief that he will get it and 
let his friends in on the ground floor is the secret. . . . 

One fact is sure: he keeps his prominence and a vast following, 
no matter what he does. He 'deceives* the Duke of Fife it is the 
Duke's word but that does not destroy the Duke's loyalty to him. 
He tricks the Reformers into immense trouble, with his Raid, but 
most of them believe he meant well. He weeps over the harshly- 
taxed Johannesburgers and makes them his friends; at the same 
time he taxes his Charter settlers 50 per cent and so wins their 
affection and their confidence. . . . He raids and robs and slays and 
enslaves the Matabele and gets worlds of Charter-Christian applause 
for it. He has beguiled England into buying Charter waste-paper 
for Bank of England notes, ton for ton, and the ravished still burn 
incense to him as the Eventual God of Plenty. He has done every- 
thing he could think of to puU himself down to the ground . . . ; yet 
there he stands, to this day, upon his dizzy summit under the dome 
of the sky, an apparent permanency, the marvel of the time, the 
mystery of the age, an Archangel with wings, to half the world, 
Satan with tail to the other half. 

I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when Ms time comes, I 
shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake. 1 

1 Reprinted by permission of Messrs Chatto 8c Windus Ltd, 



[358] 



CHAPTER XVIII 

WAR 

rip HE Rhodesia Express syncopated its metallic match of speed 
JL and power through the night. For once the *up* train to 
Bulawayo had left dead on time. The officials of the Rhodesia 
Railway Company had received a warning that the 'Old Man 9 
was travelling on it in his private coach. It was June 1897. 

Wherever Rhodes showed himself a general expression of 
sympathy could be heard, especially among the simple people: 
'Poor old Rhodes . . . these London "swells" treated him like 
a criminal and all his friends left him in the lurch. . . .* 

He had brought home with htm from London nothing but a 
Pyrrhic victory. Though he had boasted, before he left for 
England to 'face the music*, that his political career was just 
beginning, he had already sensed that it would not be easy to 
pick up the reins that had slipped from his hands. One of those 
Cape Town 'mugwumps' had actually had the impudence to tell 
him straight to his face that his best retreat would be *a hermit's 
cell somewhere on the Zambezi*. At the Colonial Office they had 
called him 'the hustler*. And old Goschen had asked: 'Were you 
not acting in rather a hurry, Mr Rhodes?* Of course he had been, 

and still was, in a hurry! They ought to come and see the 

knot on his wrist and watch how the heart laboured to keep him 

going! And for how long still? Not older than fifty 

And next week he would be celebrating his forty-fourth birthday. 

The state of Rhodes' health had become known also outside the 
circle of his friends. Newspapers had already discussed the question 
of a successor. From all parts of the Empire there arrived 
anxious inquiries. Rhodes answered them all himself, in carefully 
worded statements so as not to upset the alarmed stock market. 

Only the other day in London an old friend, a digger from 
Kimberley, had asked whether he had enjoyed his success in life 
and whether it had been worth all the trouble. Was it? Was it? 
Yes, he had enjoyed it, certainly he had enjoyed itl It was worth 
the candle* At the time when he thought that Kruger was going 

[359] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

to hang Frank and he had not been sure they mightn't hang him 

too, he didn't like it 'No, the great fault of life is Its shortness. 

Just when one is beginning to know the game, one has to stop 

has to' stop to stop ' One thing he had learnt: 1 honestly 

believe that my years of trouble have made me a better man. I 
had a life of uninterrupted success, and then I had two years of 
considerable trouble, and I found . . , that I had an individuality 
that could stand trouble. . . .' 

The train rattled on. Rhodes, in his bed, tossed about from 
side to side. But no matter how he turned, the wildly palpitating 
heart morsed its maddening rhythm into his ears, broadcasting, 
as it were, his death-sentence. After such nights of torture Rhodes 
would need many hours to recover. Everyone would keep away. 
But that morning his secretary could not avoid entering his 
sleeping compartment at the first sign of his chief's being awake. 
He found a grumbling ill-humoured Rhodes. * What do you want?' 
The secretary reported that the night before, after Rhodes had 
already retired, a telegram had arrived with the news that Barney 
Barnato, on his way to England, had committed suicide by 
jumping overboard. 

All the colour left Rhodes' face. Just as suddenly he turned 
crimson with fury. Why had the telegram not been brought to 
him immediately upon its arrival? He barked at the secretary: 

*I suppose you thought this would affect me and I should not 
sleep. Why, do you imagine I should be in the least affected if 
you were to fall under the wheels of this train now?' 

Barnato's suicide upset Rhodes deeply and not only because of 
the probability of a new crisis on the stock market. Rhodes had 
always retained a soft spot for Barnato. Perhaps Rhodes also 
felt in some way responsible for Barnato's mental collapse. 
Barnato had been excluded from the secret of the Raid. Unlike 
Rhodes, Beit and their friends, he had therefore not been able to 
make financial arrangements beforehand. Not only had he made 
no profits but he had lost more than 3 millions. In the autumn 
of 1895 speculation on the 'Kaffir Circus' had reached such dimen- 
sions that a crash could be predicted even by the uninitiated 
outsider. The value of the South African shares on the market 
amounted to more than 300 millions which, however, yielded 
only 2 millions in dividends. 

When in September 1895 large parcels of South African gold 

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WAR 



shares were offered, the provenance of which was unknown, 
prices began to crumble. These mysterious sales were repeated 
in ever-increasing quantities. The crash on the London Stock 
Exchange began on the Jewish Day of Atonement. Barnato 
bought up whatever came on the market and thus prevented a 
general breakdown in prices and saved London's money market 
from a consequent crisis of catastrophic proportions. Everyone 
wondered what could have moved Barnato; who had always 
operated timidly and only within his own restricted field, to act as 
the saviour of the stock market. Strange as it may seem Barnato 
had acted completely altruistically. The Lord Mayor of London 
gave a banquet at the Mansion House in honour of Barnato 'in 
recognition of his exertions to keep up prices and prevent a panic*. 

The New Year brought Barnato a sad awakening: he had spent 
his ''kosher money* to fill the pockets of Rhodes, Beit & Co., who 
had used the Raid for a gigantic bear-speculation. His friend 
Rhodes had made a dupe of him. 

Even if he had been asked, Barnato would not have participated 
in the Johannesburg conspiracy, because in his opinion 'men do 
not come to the Transvaal to vote, they come to earn money*. 
Without his knowledge his nephew Solly Joel had participated 
in the Reform movement. Now he was sitting in jail in Pretoria 
with the others, awaiting trial. Barnato took the next ship to 
South Africa: 'How can I face the boy's poor mother if I don't 
get him out of tronk"?* 

And he did not mince his words when at the trial he told the 
presiding judge in the most precise terms what he thought of 
Transvaal justice. The judge finally interrupted him: 'Mr Barnato, 
you are no gentleman/ As fast as a revolver shot came Barney's 
reply: 'And you are no judge!* 

A few days later Barnato gave notice to all his employees. 
Advertisements announced the auction of his multiple property 
in Johannesburg, Several of his mines closed down, Barnato, clad 
all in black, went to Pretoria to see Kruger. 

In Pretoria Barnato's intended sell-out was not considered an 
empty threat. They knew his stubbornness. The loss in revenue 
and the crisis which would inevitably follow would be ruinous 
to the Transvaal. The President promised Bamato the greatest 
leniency towards the condemned Reformers. 

From the excitement of those days Barnato never recovered. 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

And yet he had no reason to worry: he had surmounted the crisis 
almost unscathed, as the loss of 3 millions had soon been 
partially recovered. But he imagined that he had lost most of 
his fortune. Everywhere he saw enemies waiting to destroy him. 
When threatening letters arrived, he lost all hold over himself. 
His cries of "they're after me 3 echoed through the house. 'They're 
after me! . . .* 'Yes, oh yes, poor old Dad, bless his memory, used 
to say to the boys: If a man is going to hit you, hit him first and 
say: c lf you try that, I'll hit you again/ " . . . No, no too weak for 
that now. . . . They're after me. . . . No one ever knew or ever can 
know how hard I worked for it all. If I have made millions, I 
have worked for them as few men ever can have worked. ... I go 
to bed with my work, sleep with it, dream of it, and wake up with 

it. ... And. . . . They're after mel They're after me! ' 

He sailed for England on a holiday accompanied by his family. 
During the trip he was calm and drank only moderately* One day 
when he had been lying in a deck-chair he suddenly stood up and 
with a piercing cry of 'they're after me' jumped over the rails. 

The tragic end of Barnato weighed heavily on Rhodes* mind. 
It reminded him of the probability of his own sudden death. He 
revised his last will and sent it to his financial manager, Sir Lewis 
Michell: "... It will amuse you. I am almost superstitious. I knew 
Barnato would not outlive me, so I made no arrangement with 
him. If Beit had not made the arrangement with me, he would 
have also died first. Now the thought has come that I might go 
first and my ideas be lost. . . .' 

In England, in spite of his victory over his compatriots* 
'unctuous rectitude', Rhodes had to swallow many humiliations. 
Lord Salisbury made no secret of his contempt for him. He cut 
him ostentatiously wherever they met, even at the table of the 
Prince of Wales. 

When he had been dismissed by the Committee, Rhodes had 
booked his return passage from England on the Tantallon Castle 
only after he had made sure that Schreiner was travelling on the 
same ship. He kept his departure secret so that Schreiner should 
not escape him at the last minute. He had to talk to Schreiner, 
and now that all was over the hatchet would have to be buried 
between them and everything be forgotten and forgiven. Rhodes 

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WAR 

needed Schreiner, without whom he would .never win back the 
confidence of the moderate Afrikaners. 

Rhodes found it impossible to believe that anyone should have 
principles which he would not give up after having received a 
good treatment 'on the personal* from him. All his wooing of 
Schreiner was wasted. Schreiner had had his suspicions about 
Rhodes' financial interest in the Raid confirmed by the Inquiry. 
It had broken his last link of friendship with Rhodes. He would 
fight him now, tooth and nail. Schreiner, together with Merriman, 
Sauer and Solomon, all former Ministers under Rhodes, attached 
themselves to the Bond. Rhodes, with what was left of his former 
Afrikaner followers and with the majority of the English-speaking 
elements, formed the Progressive Party, financed principally by 
himself. The country was now clearly divided into two racial 
political factions: Afrikaner and English. Rhodes' twenty years of 
working for a reconciliation policy between the two races had 
been utterly wrecked. 

For some time Rhodes was able to keep his party though 
without him in the saddle, thanks to the peculiar election 
methods prevailing in South Africa at the time. However, one 
could not permanently corriger la fortune at elections, and soon the 
Progressive Party was in the minority. Schreiner, backed by the 
Bond, became Prime Minister. 

Schreiner had succeeded in ousting Rhodes and his 'capitalistic 
Caesarism and bastard imperialism*. He regarded Rhodes *as the 
greatest enemy of the Imperial policy', if, as he assumed, c the 
British Government was set on a peaceful course'. 

His loss of political power affected Rhodes so deeply that he 
sometimes lost complete control over himself. 

Several of his friends did not believe that Rhodes' strange 
behaviour in the years from 1897 until his death was due only 
to his weak heart. Molteno, who had observed him closely, now 
regarded Rhodes as 'more a candidate for mental treatment than 
serious political canvassing'. Others had noticed also the great 
physical deterioration in him since the days of the Raid. His 
complexion had taken on a still darker hue; his swollen face 
appeared distorted and his eyes recalled the expression of an old 
retriever dog. 

No one asked for Rhodes' advice. He was left out in the cold. 
In his own new party the English voters had not yet completely 

[363] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 




was flourishing as never before and Rhodes saw the necessity of 
transplanting the new type of vociferous chauvinism to the Cape. 
Parties were all right during election time: between elections the 
people should be given an opportunity to wave their flags and 
voice their patriotic feelings. He therefore founded a movement, 
the South African League, which on the outside was a harmless 
patriotic society, but in fact did its best, as the Cape Government 
soon complained to the High Commissioner, c to foment and excite 
ill-will between the two principal European races'. 

Responsible people in South Africa were seriously worried 
about the hooliganism, hitherto unknown in South African 
politics, which Rhodes* South African League had provoked but 
of which, through repercussions on his opponents, the victim 
was mostly Rhodes himself. Since the time when Groote Schuur 
had been rebuilt nineteen fires had broken out, all of which were 
proved to be the work of incendiaries. On Ms estate valuable 
birds* eggs were smashed, the kangaroos and ostriches in the 
paddocks were poisoned or clubbed to death, almost 2,000 young 
trees were uprooted and broken and an attempt to liberate the 
lions from their cages was frustrated only at the last minute. 

Rhodes was so disgusted by this savage warfare against him 
that he wanted to leave South Africa. Should he go to Rhodesia? 
It seemed senseless. By the grace of Chamberlain he had again 
been admitted as Managing Director of the Chartered Company, 
having been elected by his shareholders with great acclaim. At 
the same time, however, the dictatorial powers which he had 
wielded in Rhodesia were narrowed down by Chamberlain through 
the introduction of a legislative council superseding him. Though 
not much gold had as yet been found and, according to expert 
opinion, would never be found to any extent, Rhodes still fed 
his shareholders with hopes of great gold-reefs and managed once 
more to obtain fresh capital. The Chartered Company now had 
the? respectable amount of 5 millions of their shareholders* 
money invested in Rhodesia without having as yet paid a penny 
in dividends. The optimism of the small shareholders and of the 
thousands of foreign speculators was by no means shared by 
English bankers and financial experts. The shares, shortly after 
the shareholders 5 meeting, had reached their lowest level. 

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WAR 

Rhodesia would be able to get on very well without him, with 
Lord Grey in charge and the Legislative Council acting as 
Chamberlain's watchdogs. There was nothing for him to do any 
more in South Africa. Thrown on the rubbish heap! Even his 
interest in Goldfields and De Beers had begun to weaken: 'The 
only trouble with regard to the industry is that it is becoming a 
matter of course and uninteresting. It goes like clockwork. There 
is an element of certainty there was not in the past; but I will 
admit that to my mind it has not the interest it had in the past 
when one had to use one's mind and brain/ 

The thought of being condemned to political impotence 
deprived him of the ability to enjoy his existence. All his money, 
the millions he had gathered and the half-million pounds which 
constituted his regular income, had become valueless to him. 
'Money is power', he had often said in his earlier days. At the 
zenith of his life he had to find out how wrong this notion had 
been. 

He confided in Garrett It was shortly before the elections that 
sealed Rhodes' fate of political eclipse in the Cape. He did not 
speak c off the record* and knew that his words would be printed 
the next day, in the Cape Times. 

A leading place again in Cape politics? Garrett wanted to know. 
This master of journalistic art had struck the right keynote. 
Rhodes replied: 

. . . Don't talk as if it was I who want your Cape politics. You 
want me. You can't do without me. You discuss 'Ought Rhodes to 
do this?* and 'Will Rhodes keep in the background?' and so on 
I am quite willing to keep out, but you have to take the feeling of 
the people, and the feeling of the people ... is that somebody is 
wanted to fight a certain thing for them, and there is nobody else 
able and willing to fight it. You say, *Oh, but that's your ambition, 
you want to get back into power* I reply quite fairly, no, humanly 
speaking, as for ambition at the Cape, I have had everything. There 
is no more to offer, only work and worry. As for the North well 
there we are really creating a country. . . * Really there are many 
other things to think of besides Cape Town parish pump. . . . The 
Cape [is] a sort of Bond-ridden place Bond, varied by unctuous 
rectitude and all sorts of wobbling. ... I really believe they say 
'Oh, this is Rhodes* amiable lunacy we must humour him because 
after all he does work for the country/ You see, it's very amusing. 

[365] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Localism here and in Johannesburg, and in Natal and in the Cape 
Colony; and that's where I think, to be frank, that I might perhaps 
be able to be of a certain use, because I have a certain influence, with 
a good many people in aE these places, and you know my idea 
Colonial Federation. . . . 

Poor Rhodes., he still cherished illusions and wish-dreams far 
removed from reality. Politicians fought shy of having their names 
linked with his or even of being seen in his company. One of his 
former followers once came to him at Groote Schuur, bringing 
him some presents, but asking that his visit be kept secret. Rhodes 
concealed his annoyance but he took his revenge: the visitor had 
left behind his umbrella which had his name engraved on the 
handle. Rhodes had it placed on the table in the entrance hall for 
everyone to see. 

It now began to dawn upon Rhodes that his political power 
had vanished. All that remained of his former glory was a certain 
sentimental value attached to his name as founder of the diamond 
industry and conqueror of the North. He was no longer needed. 
Chamberlain had indicated to Molteno, that "when things have 
been settled in the Sudan, the whole weight of the British 
Government will be thrown against the Transvaal and in clearing 
up affairs in South Africa'. The 'Imperial Factor' had taken over 
the task of shaping the fate of South Africa and Joseph 
Chamberlain, a la Jupiter tonans, would direct the powers from 
Whitehall. Since gods no longer appeared on earth personally, 
Chamberlain would have to send a demigod hero to South 
Africa as his handyman. He made the best possible choice: 
acclaimed by all and sundry as the perfect representative of 
England's militant Imperialism, the new creed of the country 
which had been brought to full bloom through the patriotic 
exaltations on the occasion of a beloved Queen's Diamond 
Jubilee, Sir Alfred MiLner was appointed, in February 1897, as 
High Commissioner in South Africa. The South African grave- 
yard of reputations' was yawning for a new victim. 

Chamberlain had picked on Milner not only for his admini- 
strative abilities and brilliant intellect but rather for his well- 
known strength of character bordering almost on recalcitrant 
stubbornness which he thought would firmly resist any possible 



WAR 

attempts by Rhodes to bully him, to 'square* him, or to *take him 
on the personal 5 . Chamberlain had warned Milner against Rhodes. 
He had also given him strict orders to suppress any anti-British 
movement in the Cape. He asked him to settle die Uitlander 
question with or without Kruger, with the ultimate aim of a 
South African Federation under the Union Jack. 

Rhodes had expected to be consulted by Milner immediately 
upon the High Commissioner's arrival. No word came from 
Government House. Swallowing his pride, Rhodes went to see 
Milner unasked. He tried hard to apply all his magnetic charm 
on the new man for a treatment 'on the personal', but he soon 
realized that the stern and inanimate features of the new High 
Commissioner would not thaw. He never went there again. 
Neither did he invite the High Commissioner to Groote Schuur 
after Milner's remark had been reported to him: 'The less Rhodes 
and I are seen together the better/ 

Though Rhodes, at the time of the Matabele indaba^ had ex- 
pressed a wish to be able to grow cabbages like the Roman 
Emperor Qncinnatus, he was not fully satisfied now that he had 
nothing else to do but devote all his time to his various agricul- 
tural enterprises. He had become the biggest farmer in the world. 
In Rhodesia his two farms, one of 100,000 and the other of 
70,000 acres, occupied him only as long as he was able to design 
plans for dams, organize the cultivation and direct the manage- 
ment. As soon as details had to be dealt with he lost patience 
and left them to his managers. Before the elections of 1897 he 
had acquired a great number of large farms in the Paarl and 
Stellenbosch districts where most of the farmers were followers 
of Hofmeyr. It was said that he had acquired these farms for 
the sole purpose of settling his old English retainers from 
Kimberley, Johannesburg and Rhodesia there so as to win a 
majority for his party in these districts. These rumours were 
contradicted by the fact that Rhodes immediately began to 
combine these farms into a single giant fruit farm. The 'Rhodes 
Fruit Farm* became the first, biggest and most progressive 
agricultural enterprise in South Africa, the pioneer of today's 
Cape fruit industry. 

Most of his time Rhodes spent in Rhodesia. He loved to ride 
up the Matopo Hills for recuperation. He had been seriously ill, 
following severe attacks of malaria^ Dr Jameson hurried to 

[367] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



Rhodes' farm near Bulawayo to nurse him. The two friends often 
sat together on the 'View of the World'. Once Rhodes pointed 
at the weather-beaten heavy boulders and lay down flat on the 
biggest of them saying almost ceremoniously: 'Here I want to be 

buried As somebody said: They'll get the country and all 

1*11 get is six foot by four six foot by four. . . .* Jameson looked 
at his friend in consternation. No shrieking laughter followed. 
Jameson then knew that Rhodes' health was even worse than the 
symptoms had indicated. 

Feeling that the span of life left to him was no more than a 
score of months, at the most a couple of years, Rhodes, as though 
in a fren2y, urged everyone around him to hurry with the com- 
pletion of his various schemes. His main project, the Cape to 
Cairo railway, was already more than 1,300 miles nearer realiza- 
tion. For the ceremonial opening of the railway line over the 
Zambezi he had, upon Lord Grey's advice, invited Milner. They 
had not met since that first futile encoder at Government 
House the year before. 

At first, remembering Milner's offensive chilliness towards 
him, Rhodes wanted to pay him back in his own coin and remained 
coldly aloof. Now that there was no longer any danger of Rhodes 
crossing his path and eclipsing him, Milner softened considerably. 
They had two long talks together unburdening their hearts to 
each other, and found out that, after all, their opinions, aims and 
intentions were identical. Each, however, distrusted the other, 
fearing that at the critical moment the one might steal the other's 
thunder. They both agreed that 'Krugerisni' would have to be 
destroyed. Rhodes blamed the old Boer President, recently 
re-elected for the fourth time by an overwhelming majority, for 
every failure in his latest enterprises: the Raid, the Johannesburg 
revolution they had only broken down because of 'old Kroiger'. 
The financial crisis, the slump on the stock market, the labour 
difficulties, the lost Cape elections it was all the fault of 'that 
damn' old Dopper% 

To Milner the Transvaal appeared as 'two wholly antagonistic 
systems a medieval race oligarchy, and a modern industrial state 
[which] simply could not exist permanently side by side'. Only 
about the method to be employed did the two men differ; Rhodes 
was opposed to war, but only because of the cost. He preferred 
the quicker, cheaper and easier way of a *jump on the Transvaal'. 



WAR 

In Milner's righteous civil-servant bureaucratic mind there arose 
the fear that Rhodes might once again spring on them some 
ugly surprise. He immediately changed the subject. He found 
Rhodes, as he reported home, 'undaunted and unbroken . . . but 
also untaught and quite capable, unless he be guided, of making 
shipwreck of his own ambition and our permanent shipwreck'. 

In Whitehall they had expected Rhodes to lie low for some 
years and to be satisfied with building up what he had acquired. 
Rhodes, with his insatiable appetite, demanded more: the British 
Protectorate of Bechuanaland had been promised to him; he now 
wanted this promise fulfilled. Milner, thinking of the uproar 
which would be caused among the Exeter Hall people and the 
'Little Englanders* if the demand were granted, was horrified. 
'Men are ruled by their foibles and your foible, Mr Rhodes, is 
size', he told him. The only way, Milner suggested to Chamberlain, 
by which Rhodes should be allowed to incorporate Bechuanaland 
with Rhodesia, was to make him 'earn it by his good behaviour'. 
For the time being he found Rhodesia still e in a pretty handsome 
mess' which was due to the fact that Rhodes 'is a great developer 
but a bad administrator'. And he considered Rhodes personally 
'too self-willed, too violent, too sanguine and too much in a 
hurry*. 

Outwardly they got along well together, though between them 
there always remained a feeling of suspicion and jealousy. And 
both suffered from the same kind of stubbornness, so that Rhodes 
once remarked: 

'I find him, his mind once made up, unmovable so much so 
that we tacitly agree to drop at once any subject that we do not 
agree on. I allow he makes his decisions slowly, but once made 
they are irrevocable/ 

Such tolerance and patience Rhodes showed only rarely, even 
towards people with whom he wanted to ingratiate himself. He 
tried to avoid differences with Milner because he did not wish to 
interfere with Milner's 'mission* even indirectly: 'A burnt child 
dreads the fire. I keep aloof from the whole Transvaal crisis so 
that no one may be able to say if things go wrong that Rhodes is 
in it again/ 

Besides, he needed Milner's good will for his railway scheme, 
which was nearest to his heart now that there was no longer 
anything else for him to do in Africa, Next on his programme was 

[369] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 



the continuation of the railway line up to Tanganyika. He needed 
it not only for his Cape to Cairo scheme but also in order to 
establish new mineral "milestones' there. On the Rhodesian- 
Congo border his men had discovered the rich copper belt and 
the coal-mines of Katanga. Without a rail connection it would 
be useless. Funds would have to be found to finance both these 
projects. With this object in view Rhodes left for England at the 
end of 1898. If the copper and coal in his new mines were to pay, 
he would have to find cheap money for the railway extension 
which he would be able to obtain only from the British Govern- 
ment. It was most unlikely that they would grant his request. 
Rhodes, however, conceived the ingenious idea that the British 
Treasury should merely guarantee his railway company's issue of 
3 million debentures which would enable him to obtain the 
money from the public at Government rates of 2^ per cent, 
whereas otherwise he would have to offer at least 3 J per cent. 

Chamberlain was not disinclined to listen to Rhodes' proposi- 
tion but he was afraid to have the Colonial Office mixed up in 
any of Rhodes' financial schemes. So as to get rid of him politely 
he gave Rhodes a recommendation to his Cabinet colleague 
'Black Michael' Hicks-Beach, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 
Chamberlain could well imagine the meeting between these two 
men Rhodes who 'is very unreasonable in the way he expects 
all his demands to be taken on trust' and c Black Michael' who had 
inherited from Lord Randolph Churchill the title of being 
England's rudest man: there would probably "be a hell of a row. 

The reception which Rhodes was given by Hicks-Beach sur- 
passed even Chamberlain's expectations. The Chancellor who had 
no faith in the Cape to Cairo route suspected that all Rhodes 
was out for was to boom Chartered shares by 'creating the 
impression that the Chartered Company was to be reinforced by 
Imperial credit' 

It did not take long before the two men were at loggerheads. 
'Black Michael' told Rhodes or rather shouted at him: It's all 
right, Mr Rhodes you can't bluff me.' Rhodes jumped up from 
his chair, his face purple. He had to fight for breath before he 
squeaked in highest falsetto: 'You should be ashamed of yourself 

ashamed of yourself!' Excitedly he marched up and down the 

room, his hands deeply buried in Ms trouser-pockets. Someone 
an assistant or a clerk came into the room. Rhodes checked his 

[370] 



WAR 

pacing and, stepping in front of the intruder, he shouted: * What 
d'you think? The damned fellow said I was trying to bluff him! 
I'm going home tomorrow. . . .' 

Hicks-Beach was not the only one who refused to believe in 
the possibility and soundness of the Cape to Cairo route. Railway 
experts, pointing to the enormous costs, estimated at fifteen to 
twenty millions, doubted whether interest could ever be paid on 
such large capital. They also questioned the necessity of an over- 
land route which would not shorten the distance from London 
to the Cape. Colonel Prout, in a technical railway journal, described 
the idea as enticing and admitted that 'nothing quite so spectacular 
has been done in history since the time of Alexander tie Great 7 . 
But he also rejected the project as uneconomic. A quarter of the 
route would go parallel to navigable waters; half of the distance 
would run through uncivilized country and three-fifths of it 
through areas in which no white man could live. 

They all misunderstood Rhodes' idea and still believed that 
he was motivated only by the romantic ideas and imperialistic 
'dreams* of his schoolboy Imagination*. In the meantime, how- 
ever, Rhodes, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his fierce Jingoism 
was beginning to think in terms of absolute JLealpolitik as far as 
his enterprises in the North were concerned. Sentimental con- 
siderations would not have moved him to change the railroad 
a single mile. The plans were laid with *some immediate and 
material objects in view', namely, to keep up with the geological, 
industrial and commercial exploitation of the newly opened 
countries. He pleaded with Harcourt: 

Look at the matter. You get the railway to Lake Tanganyika, you 
have Her Majesty's sanction for the railway to Uganda , . . and then 
you have Kitchner coming doMra from Khartoum. ... It is not 
imaginative; it is practical. That gives you Africa the whole of 
it ... the conquest of Africa by the English nation is a practical 
question now. 

Harcourt refused to be convinced. He sneered at the scheme: 
*. . . What a noble and generous offerl Only it is not the Chartered 
Company who is to pay for this it is the British taxpayer. . . . 
This prospectus is not only for English publication and English 
consumption, but it is a notice to other countries who must 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

wickedly imagine that they have some claim to some share in 
portions of Africa. . . / 

The coffers of the British Exchequer were closed to Rhodes. 
He had to find and he did find the necessary funds among 
private investors, relying to a great extent on investment by 
German and French speculators. He had repeatedly been censured 
by the English Press for using foreign money markets in his 
unorthodox financing methods. 

The question of the route farther north had now become acute. 
The Tanganyika line to Uganda would have to go through 
German and Belgian Congo territory. He had to hurry: Kitchener, 
from *a post to the south of Fashoda*, asked him jokingly in a 
telegram: 'When are you coming up?' Rhodes replied in the 
same vein. . . *If you don't look sharp, in spite of your victory, 
I shall reach Uganda before you/ 

He had no faith in British diplomacy. He would go to Brussels 
and Berlin himself and discuss the matter personally with King 
Leopold and the Kaiser. Was he not himself a kind of sovereign, 
the Ruler of Rhodesia? 

He ran down the thickly carpeted marble staircase of the Palace 
of Laeken towards the Palace gate so fast that the elderly court 
flunkey who wished to show him out could scarcely follow him, 
He ignored the polite question: 'Does Monsieur not wish to see 
His Majesty's hot-houses with the famous orchids?* Orchids? He 
suppressed a round English curse. Reminded him of another 
damn* fellow who also grew those useless blossoms and who 
could have behaved just as atrociously. 

When Rhodes reached his carriage he wiped the sweat from 
his brow and spat out his words to his secretary breathlessly: 
'Satan, I tell you that man is Satanl* 

Later, when he had recuperated a little, he added: *I thought 
I was clever but I was no match for King Leopold.* 

In his opinion of Leopold II, King of the Belgians and master 
over the Congo, Rhodes did not stand alone. He merited his 
name of Leopold the Unloved. Just as he himself was hated, so 
he hated everyone who threatened to disturb him in his business 
or his private pleasures. His greatest aversion, next to his own 
family, was the English Queen, who detested him as much as she 
had loved his father. Uncle Leopold. 

[37^] 



WAR 



Instead of discussing Rhodes' projects of telegraphs and rail- 
ways during the audience, the Belgian king gave him a lecture on 
British perfidy. When at the end Rhodes timidly asked permission 
for his railway line to go through Congo territory, Leopold 
became abusive. How dared he even ask? Had not Rhodes been 
responsible for having robbed the Congo of the Katanga basin, 
where copper, coal and iron had been found in such abundance? 
And then there was still the strip in the territory formerly held 
by the French and now taken over by the British, that Rosebery 
had promised him! 

The King stood up and when Rhodes was already at the door 
he shouted at him: 'Give it back to me and you may traverse the 
Congo as you please. But until I get it back, I'll be damned if 
ever a yard of your telegraph wire or a single rail of your Cape 
to Cairo railway will cross my country/ Bismarck had been right, 
Rhodes told himself, when he had said: 'Apparently no one ever 
leaves Leopold with a whole shirt/ 

In Berlin, where Rhodes arrived on u March 1899, the 
reception was totally different. Baron von Holstein had received 
a report from German East Africa that Rhodes might visit Berlin 
on his next European trip. Immediately numerous telegrams were 
dispatched from the Wilhelmstrasse to the German Ambassador 
in London to inquire whether 'Sir Rhodes' a German could not 
imagine a prominent person without a title 'is a man with whom 
compensation politics on the larger scale can be discussed that 
is to say ... is his influence strong enough in England to drive 
them through even against Lord Salisbury's vis inertiae! . . / 

Holstein wished to exchange railway concessions in German 
East Africa for the cessation of England's resistance to Germany's 
acquisition of Samoa and her interests in Morocco. He also 
hoped to gain an improvement in Anglo-German relations from 
Rhodes' visit. Salisbury had been inaccessible to the German 
Ambassador for weeks. At the moment the two countries seemed 
not far from breaking off diplomatic relations. 

The German Foreign Secretary, suave Baron Bernhard von 
Bxilow, immediately took Rhodes in hand. He wished to sound 
the man and his ways so as to be able to prepare the Kaiser for 
their first meeting. The next morning Rhodes was invited to an 
'informal' audience with the Kaiser for the late afternoon. 

Wilhelm received his guest in his study where, behind a large 

[373] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

desk, he sat on a peculiar seat built in the form of a horse's back 
topped by a leather saddle complete with stirrups. 

Two men sat facing each other who were the very personifica- 
tion of Machtpolitik and of a fin de stick sham-romanticism. Both 
believed that they had been selected as instruments of destiny to 
spread and materialize the gospel of nationalism. They thirsted 
for power as a compensation for the hidden weaknesses of their 
own personalities. Only in a state of climactic crisis could the 
German Emperor find a confirmation of his own importance and 
thus overcome his gnawing inferiority complex. Cecil Rhodes 
also needed the stimulus of ever new and complicated situations 
to feel the weight of his personality and thus escape from the 
painful dissatisfaction with his existence. These two men admired 
each other. Unconsciously each saw himself mirrored in the 
other. 

They soon warmed up. Rhodes, employing his charm with all 
the stops pulled out to their furthest limit, fascinated the Kaiser 
and gave him the feeling that now at last he had found a congenial 
character who had full understanding for his complex genius. The 
Kaiser led the conversation to colonial questions, complaining 
bitterly that there was nothing left for Germany on which to 
build up a colonial empire. Rhodes had been waiting for this 
topic. He had learnt about the Kaiser's latest foible of planning 
a Berlin-Baghdad railway line. Rhodes now fired the Kaiser's 
imagination by pointing out the possibility of conquering the 
Middle East not by the might of the sword but by railways, dams 
and water pipe-lines. 

Rhodes felt at once that the magic name of Mesopotamia had 
won his case for him. The Baghdad Railway*, the Kaiser said, 
*is Germany's task, just as the Cape to Cairo line is yours/ 
Together they bent over maps and spent their time building 
bridges here and dams there real miracles of engineering and 
canals through deserts and railways across mountains. Two 
schoolboys playing a geographical game! 

The ground had now been well prepared, Rhodes decided, for 
him to come out with his own business: 'Oh, that stupid Jameson 
Raid', he said. It had all been the fault of Kruger, who did not allow 
the Gape to Cairo line to run through the Transvaal, a demand 
which, after aH 'was not unjust and would certainly have met with 
German support'. And without Kruger there would have been 

[374] 



WAR 

no Raid and (with a twinkle in his eye) no unfortunate telegram. 
'Oh, for that telegram', Rhodes continued after having made sure 
that the Kaiser was smiling, C I have to be extremely grateful to 
Your Majesty. You see, Sir, I got myself into a bad scrape, and 
I was coming home to be whipped by Grandmamma, when you 
kindly stepped in and sent that telegram, and you got the whipping 
instead of me I was the naughty boy and I never got whipped 
at all.' 

All he wanted, Rhodes explained, was the right for his telegraph 
and railway line to pass through German territory in East Africa. 
The Kaiser agreed provided that his Ministers had no objections. 
He made the condition, however, that German material should 
be used and that Rhodes should exert his influence in London for 
a favourable settlement of the Samoa question. 

The Kaiser was about to touch on another subject when to his 
great amusement Rhodes, who did not care for such nonsense 
of court etiquette as waiting to be graciously dismissed, pulled 
out his watch and, proffering his hand to his imperial host 
another crime against court rule said to him with a smile: c Well, 
Your Majesty, good-bye. Fve got to go now, as I have some people 
coming to dinner.* 

The Kaiser pressed his hand warmly: e l wish I had a minister 
like you.' Rhodes replied: 'If I had met you before 1896, there 
never would have been any Jameson Raid/ 

When the Kaiser told von Biilow about his meeting with 
Rhodes he said: 'When Napoleon met Goethe at Erfurt he 
exclaimed: "Voila un homme!" I can say the same of Rhodes: 
Fve met a manl* 

Several other meetings between the Kaiser and Rhodes 
followed. Rhodes received the confirmation of their agreement 
with the proviso of England's approval of the Samoa cession. 
He left Berlin not quite satisfied with his success, which he 
called *a most just bargain but aU ifs and ans'. However, his 
opinion of the Germans, who for the last twenty years had con- 
veniently served him as a bogey, had changed. He had turned into 
a champion of an Anglo-German entente and of Germany's colonial 
expansion anywhere in the world except, of course, in Africa. 

One other triumph Rhodes carried away from Berlin. So as to 
please Whitehall the Germans had now begun to end their 
flirtation with the Boers. Dr Leyds, who had arrived in Berlin 

[375] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

befote Rhodes, again *to see a throat-specialist', was no longer 
received by von Billow. He was told by a junior clerk in the 
Wilhelmstrasse: *On behalf of his Majesty I have to express to 
you the Emperor's urgent wish that you and your Government 
should at least cease agitating in German papers against an 
Anglo-German rapprochement? 

To the Prince of Wales went Rhodes' full report about his 
visit. The letter was later forwarded to the Queen: 

... I feel sure he is most anxious to work with England, and I 
think he is fond of the English; he must be so, for after all he is half 
an Englishman. I think he is very sensitive, for he spoke about the 
way the EngEsh papers have abused him. I heard in Berlin, on good 
authority, and I am sure, Sir, you will not mind my repeating it, 
that he thinks you do not like him, and that he is very anxious to 
gain your good opinion. ... I am sure of this, that, if you showed 
him good feeling when he came to Engknd, it would immensely 
influence his mind. 

During a short stay in England Rhodes was feted as though 
there had never been a Raid or an Inquiry. He felt highly 
flattered when his old University bestowed on him, together with 
Lord Kitchener, the honorary degree of Doctor of Law. After 
the ceremony Rhodes proudly remarked to his friends: 'They 
gave me a greater reception than Lord Kitchener, and you must 
remember that they were not mere undergraduates of eighteen, 
but Masters of Arts, gentlemen with grey beards. . / 

Rhodes believed in his infallibility more than ever before. It was 
said that his intercourse with crowned heads, who had treated him 
as an equal, had altogether turned his head. He became completely 
arbitrary in his actions and refused to discuss his dispositions or 
explain his orders even to his colleagues. When Rhodes heard 
that Sammy Marks, one of Johannesburg's multi-millionaires and 
a personal friend of Kruger's, had presented the President with 
a pair of sculptured lions for the entrance portal of his residence, 
Rhodes decided that it would be a good idea to send the President 
a pair of real lions as a gift for Pretoria's new Zoological Gardens. 
Friends warned him that the gift might be misinterpreted and 
taken as a political allegory the British Lion. Rhodes, however, 
argued, shouted and raved, and off went the lions to Pretoria. 
They were sent back by return as unwanted. 

[376] 



WAR 

Rhodes returned to South Africa in August 1899 just in time: 
the war against the Transvaal began in October. Milner had 
fulfilled his mission; the Uitlander franchise served as a con- 
venient pretext. The real reason for going to war remained 
obscure to many. A prominent writer stated: 'Surely we never 
before went to war when there was so much uncertainty about 
the casus belli? The masses were fed with sufficiently intoxicating 
patriotic slogans and a novelty was added to the old numbers of the 
usual musical Jingo programme by a new song to the tune of 
'John Brown's Body': 'We'll hang old Kruger on a sour apple 
tree. . . .' 

Those who knew the country, however, realized that the war, 
just like the Raid and previous wars in South Africa, had been 
started primarily for geological reasons. Nevertheless Her 
Majesty's Secretary for War felt that the occasion called for a note 
of 'felicitations' to his colleague Chamberlain., to which he added: 
'My soldiers are in ecstasies.' 

Ecstatic would hardly have been the word to express Rhodes' 
state of mind. Until the last moment he had not believed in the 
possibility of war. In London he had declared that 'Kruger is 
only bluffing' and shortly before the outbreak of hostilities he 
had cabled to Beit: 'Ktuger will yield everything the Home 
Government demand. . . . Nothing will make Kruger fire a shot.' 

Clear-headed Englishmen who remained sober in the turmoil of 
wild chauvinism were dubbed 'Little Englanders' or simply 
'traitors' and beaten up. Even a British general, Sir William Butler, 
who had substituted for Milner as High Commissioner for a while 
shortly before the war, objected to the way a casus belli had been 
manufactured. He as well as many others realized that the war 
would be nothing but a 'financial crusade'. He thought he saw 
through Rhodes' schemes. 'When Rhodesia proved a failure, the 
Transvaal became the next necessary acquisition to save the 
market/ There was no reason for war. 

Rhodes had carefully kept in the background so that no one 
could blame him for having instigated tins war. Although for 
economic reasons he would have liked to attain his goal of 
destroying Krugerism without a war, he had advocated political 
pressure within and without the Transvaal. He had done more 
than anyone else in South Africa to poison the atmosphere from 
behind the scenes, by the noisy Jingoism of his South African 

[377] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

League, by the aggressive policy of his Progressive Party in the 
Cape Parliament and by the war propaganda in his newspapers. 
Milner could be and was highly satisfied with Rhodes' underhand 
war-mongeringl 

Young J. C Smuts had been promoted from Attorney-General 
of the Transvaal to become Krager's Assistant Secretary of State. 
In his new capacity he had immediately offered Britain a franchise 
of the Uitlanders after five years' residence., as well as ten 
seats in the First Raad. It was not sufficient: Milner, in a pub- 
lished dispatch, spoke of 'the spectacle of thousands of British 
subjects kept permanently in the position of helots. . . .' Remem- 
bering the effect of Dr Jameson's infamous 'Women and 
Childxen Letter 9 of 1895, headlines in the Press screamed: 'Brutal 
Ill-Treatment of Women and Children 5 (News of the World]\ 
'Brutality to Women' (Daily Mail). 

It was the ugly cancerous growth of commercial imperialism 
spreading over the auriferous soil of South Africa that must be 
held responsible for this war. The main driving force was not 
Rhodes alone. Chamberlain, too, was blamed: 

Mr Chamberlain has raised a separate variety of Rhodes' financial 
or speculative imperialism dependent upon a supposed connection 
between Trade and the Flag, and a confusion between emporium 
and imperium. Perhaps it may be called provisionally 'Emporialism'. 
(Hirst.) 

Some even went so far, according to Stead in his Review of 
Reviews, as to accuse Chamberlain of having private interests in 
the war, since the Chamberlain family was closely connected with 
various armament concerns whose main business was contracts 
with the Admiralty and the War Office. Also the fact that his 
son Austen Chamberlain held the position of director in the Bank 
of Africa was considered, to say the least of it, as strange. Lloyd 
George, who was one of the most aggressive 'Little Englanders', 
was once heckled at a meeting: 'You oppose any expansion of 
the Empire 3 , to which the pugnacious little Welshman retorted: 
'I only note that the more the Empire expands, the more the 
Chamberlains contract/ 

The connection between haute finance and politics created, as 
a leading Liberal politician expressed it, a 'dirty moral squalor'. 

[378] 



WAR 

Neutral foreign onlookers, like the respectable Nouvelk TLevue y 
were repelled by Britain's frivolous policy of going to war against 
a peaceful nation for no other than financial reasons: 

These people [the financiers] have let loose the war not with a 
light heart, but with a single eye to the operations on the Stock 
Exchange. To that end they have endangered their country, and 
exposed the Empire to infinite damage in the estimation of mankind. 

Rhodes did indeed look upon the war as a speculative business 
transaction with economic rather than political aims, and as the 
logical continuation of his Raid politics. He sneered at Chamber- 
lain's 'pride in the war' and at his boast that if he, Chamberlain, 
was credited by his opponents with having been the 'author of 
the war, such an exploit would be a feather in [his] cap'. To 
friends Rhodes remarked: 

'Three years ago I made a raid and everybody said I was 
wrong. Now the Queen's Government are preparing another 
raid, and everybody says they are right.' 

The events leading to the state of war had exonerated Rhodes 
completely. Triumphantly he was able to show that he had 
always been right: 

'. . . When I began this business of annexation, both sides [of 
Parliament] were most timid. They would ask one to stop at 
Kimberley, then they asked one to stop at Khama's country. 
I remember Lord Salisbury's chief agent [Sir Hercules Robinson] 
imploring me to stop at the Zambezi. Now they won't stop any- 
where. They have found out that the world is not quite big 
enough for British trade and the British flag/ 

When he had waged war against the Natives in the North 
Rhodes had never been disturbed by the sacrifice of human lives. 
War for him meant the continuation of business by other means. 
He made his point of view quite dear when he said: 

'The British flag is the greatest commercial asset. . . . We are 
not going to war for the amusement of royal families, as in the 
past, but we mean practical business.' 

The same cynical tendency was expressed in a telegram from 
Rhodes' friends to Kruger just before hostilities began: Tor what 
you are about to receive may the Lord make you truly thankful.* 
President Kruger was wiser. He had once warned his State 

[379] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Secretary Dr Leyds: 'Young man, you don't know the English. I 
do. You should argue with them dispute with them negotiate 
with them but don't fight with them/ However, in a cable to the 
New York Worldhz expressed his kon determination to defend the 
freedom of the Boers: 

. . . The Republics are determined, if they must belong to England 
that a price will have to be paid which will stagger humanity. 

The results were anything but what the foolish cynics in White- 
hall had expected: the English were beaten thoroughly in the first 
months of the war and warfare was carried into their own terri- 
tories, the Cape and Natal. Once again English generals had to 
learn that war, and especially war in Africa, differed somewhat 
from manoeuvres at Sandhurst or Aldershot. 

When Rhodes told his friends that he was going to Kimberley, 
which the Boers were threatening to cut off and besiege, they 
tried to dissuade him. He refused to listen. That's where his 
place was in the hour of danger! If it was to be destroyed, if his 
life's work was to be wiped out by the Boers, he would go down 
with it. 

Having Rhodes within the precincts of the besieged town 
signified an increased risk for Kimberley: the Boers would muster 
their greater forces to take the town and capture Rhodes. They 
had already made it known that they were holding ready an iron 
cage in which to bring him to Pretoria for judgment. The Mayor 
and several of Rhodes' friends in Kimberley therefore begged of 
him to stay away from Kimberley as long as it was besieged, but 
their entreaties fell on deaf ears. 

A beleaguered town was not a place for someone as restless as 
Rhodes, unaccustomed as he was to having his activities curtailed 
in space and sphere. After having victoriously fought wars on 
his own in spite of all warnings of the military experts, after he 
had ruled a large country with almost dictatorial powers, how 
could he submit, under martial law, to the orders of a military 
commander of only the rank of a colonel? According to him 
Rhodes and Kimberley were one. He had 'made the town'* The 
greater part of the town De Beers was his property. Most of 
its inhabitants were in his employ or were indirectly dependent 
on him. And the town contained the greatest asset of the Cape 

[380] 



WAR 

Colony, his diamond mines. It was therefore to be expected that 
he would feel himself not only responsible for the security of his 
men and property but also entitled to conduct all the necessary 
arrangements for the defence of the town. 

Rhodes showed clearly that he did not think much of the 
military qualities of the Commander, Colonel R. G. Kekewich. 
He had seriously expected at least a general. Already in the early 
stages of the siege, in preposterous telegrams to Milner and to 
the Cominander-in-Chief, General Sir Redvers Buller, Rhodes 
had demanded that a strong force for the relief of Kimberley 
should be put on the march without delay. 

As soon as he was settled in Kimberley, Rhodes began to 
organize the defences. Before any of the military experts he had 
recognized that the great initial successes of the Boers were the 
result of strategy based on the great mobility of their troops. 
Rhodes, at his own expense, bought 1,000 horses and smuggled 
them through the Boer lines into Kimberley. So as to strengthen 
the weak garrison he organized mounted volunteer troops which 
were able to meet the Boers on equal terms, all his men being 
good riders and splendid shots. 

Rhodes, of course, believed that these troops, the Diamond 
Fields Light Horse and the Kimberley Light Horse, were his own 
personal guards regiments which only he, their Honorary 
Colonel, had the right to dispose. Colonel Kekewich was 
naturally of a different opinion. The first dash occurred. Others 
followed. Rhodes had established his own military cabinet, 
intelligence service, provision-commissariat, hygienic depart- 
ments, labour corps, armament depots and medical branch, all 
under his authority without regard to Kekewich's orders. There 
was a moment when even the calm and gentle Kekewich came 
very near to having Rhodes court-martialled. No other officer 
would have stood for an answer such as Rhodes gave him during 
an argument: 'You military are working only for medals, orders, 
titles and promotion, but I am working for the people/ 

When the military heliograph station was no longer at his 
disposal, Rhodes made the De Beers engineers build one for his 
own private use. Previously his messages had been censored; now 
he could say what he liked. Officers maliciously spread the rumour 
that Rhodes* telegraph only served his Stock Exchange specula- 
tions. These rumours were partly justified: Rhodes, or De Beers, 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

owned all the mines in Kimberley except one. Now, with the 
guns roaring all around him, he negotiated with the directors by 
heliograph via Cape Town and succeeded in bringing this last 
independent diamond mine under his control, 

Rhodes did not seem to mind the grenades exploding and the 
bullets flying around him. Conspicuous in his well-known apparel 
of light sports jacket and white trousers, and his notorious some- 
what soiled large slouch-hat, he served the enemy as an easy 
target. Nevertheless he took his usual ride outside the fortifica- 
tions every morning. Later, accompanied only by his secretary, 
he was often seen to go out on private reconnaissance very near 
the Boer line, the aim of many Boer snipers whose bullets never 
went far from their mark. Was he looking out as he had done in 
the Matabele campaign for the bullet to end his life and thus -put 
a stop to this horrible and frustrating wait for relief to arrive? 
They were already eating horse-meat in Kimberley. Rhodes 
organi2ed soup-kitchens, but many people grumbled that he was 
living far too well himself in the Sanatorium where, it was said, 
chickens were being kept in bedrooms. His friends advised him 
to eat publicly at one of his soup-kitchens so as to dispel these 
rumours. He could not swallow any horse-meat soup, he said, 
little knowing that it had been his chief nourishment for the last 
weeks. Once the Kimberley Club's 3,ooo-a-year chef served the 
meat of a two-year-old colt to Rhodes as 'grilled prime veal fillet 
garni a la sttgi. 

A great problem was the Natives in the compounds. Work in 
the mines had come to a standstill after the first few weeks. If the 
Natives were dismissed from the compounds a crime wave would 
sweep the town. Rhodes organized the Natives into road-making 
gangs. They built the famous Siege Avenue, more than a mile 
long, which is still the pride of the city. 

Kekewich's few light guns were no match for the Boers' heavy 
Krupp artillery. Rhodes conceived the idea of making heavy 
guns in the De Beers workshop. Within a short time 'Long Cecil* 
and *St Cecilia* began to send their 3o4b shells into the Boer lines. 
Each bore the inscription "With C J. R.'s compliments.' The 
Boers promptly retaliated with a Krupp ice-pounder. The Krupp 
guns of the Boers caused great losses in human lives as well as 
considerable damage to the town. It was Rhodes who had the 
women and children brought into safety in one of the mines 

[382] 



WAR 

before the military authorities of Kimberley even gave them a 
thought. 

The heavy bombardment, the lack of food and even more the 
fact that after three months of siege hope of relief was no nearer, 
although an English force under Lord Methuen was only twenty 
miles away, frayed everyone's nerves. Rhodes especially suffered 
under what he called 'Methuen' s masterful inactivity'. Kekewich, 
too, was almost at the end of his tether. But never, even when 
all seemed hopeless and under Rhodes' constant provocations, 
did he lose his imperturbability. Rhodes hated this war, or rather 
the way in which it was being conducted. Interviewed by a young 
journalist, he burst out: 

'People imagine that I am a warlike sort of person. I am not. 
I do not believe in war. I think so many things should be tried 
before going to the arbitrament of war. Some of these colonels 
think that all you have to do is to cry out "Attention!", hold up 
your sword, and the world will quail before you. Nonsense. I like 
soldiers like "Chinese" Gordon who went through the Taiping 
rebellion armed with a walking-stick/ 

He would have liked to end the war. It was his firm conviction 
that 'Kruger was not such an ass as to resist to the end'. Lord 
Methuen was so near to Kimberley. Why, for heaven's sake, did 
he not push through? Rhodes sent telegram after telegram to 
Headquarters, giving military advice, threatening, cajoling, 
ridiculing. He delivered public speeches, published articles and 
gave interviews over his heliograph to English papers in which 
he accused the highest authorities of blundering inefficiency and 
asked for replacement of the leading generals. At Headquarters 
Lords Roberts and Kitchener, who knew him, merely smiled. 
Lord Methuen, however, did not possess as much sense of humour 
and instructed Colonel Kekewich to *tell Mr Rhodes that on my 
entry into Kimberley he and his friends must take their immediate 
departure*. Kekewich had this dispatch shown to Rhodes, with 
the result that relations between them were broken off almost 
altogether. 

Kimberley was not far from surrender and Rhodes seriously 
contemplated personal negotiations with the Boers when it was 
relieved on i j February. No one was happier than Kekewich who 
for five months had had to wage war on two fronts, In his final 
report to Lord Roberts he complained about Rhodes: 1 have 

[383] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

put up with this man as long as possible.' But the General replied 
dryly: *I wish you had understood, Colonel, "that man 5 ' was a 
power in Africa and should have been honoured/ Rhodes decided 
to bury the past and at his instigation the directors of De Beers 
presented Kekewich with some selected diamonds as a souvenir 
of the siege. 

Work work some work to do was what Rhodes wanted. If 
they would only listen to him the war would be over in a few 
weeks. They had now followed his example and made the British 
infantry more mobile. Nevertheless they could not compete in 
mobility with the Boers. The stumbling-block lay in the cumber- 
some British provisions system. Advance troops always had to 
wait until the service corps caught up with them. The Boers 
carried their provisions, some sticks of biltong sun-dried game 
mea t in. thek saddle-bags. Rhodes planned a system whereby 
the British troops would become more independent of their 
bases of supply. He telegraphed to Lords Roberts and Kitchener 
that he was willing to take over the organization of the supply 
of provisions for the troops provided that *I have full power and 
no one to interfere with me. . . . Reply sharp as otherwise I am 
going to Cape Town/ 

They preferred to let him go to Cape Town. There, however, 
the atmosphere was anything but pleasant. The Afrikaners 
resented the way Milner was treating them as if they all were 
traitors. Civil and military authorities advised Rhodes in the 
interests of internal peace and of his own safety to leave the Cape 
as soon as possible. Rhodes went to Rhodesia, where he was far 
too occupied to take an interest any longer in a war in which 
they ignored his advice and went from one blunder to the 
next. 

A few months later the picture on the war front had changed. 
Lord Roberts had seized Pretoria from the retreating Boers. 
Somewhat prematurely he declared the war over and left to 
Kitchener what he thought were mopping-up operations. Rhodes 
was surprised at such ignorance. 

An opportunity for venting his opinion on the situation arose 
when he was called upon as President of the South African 
League to preside over a meeting in Cape Town to celebrate 
the victory. His face, stern and grim, showed that he was in 
no mood to join in the exultant flag-waving and triumphant 

[384] 



WAR 

hurrah-shouting of the assembly* which filled only half the hall. 
Ignoring the ovation, he hurried to the platform and growled at 
them: 

You think you have beaten the Dutch! But it is not so. The Dutch 
are not beaten; what is beaten is Krugerism, a corrupt and evil 
government, no more Dutch in essence than English. Nol The 
Dutch are as vigorous and unconquered today as they have ever 
been; the country is still as much theirs as it is yours, and you will 
have to live and work with them hereafter as in the past. . . . 

His speech had great repercussions. Milner realized that the 
war had turned Rhodes the politician into Rhodes the statesman. 
He and a few others now saw what Rhodes had always preached, 
that the only possible future for South Africa lay in a reconciliation 
of the two races by a federal system. Should Rhodes be asked to 
lead the South African states into a union of a nation? The Raid 
was not yet forgotten and the memory of Rhodes* betrayal of his 
Afrikaner friends was still too fresh and painful in their memory. 
Rhodes went back to Rhodesia. There, he felt, was his place. His 
mission in South Africa was completed. He had painted the map 
of South Africa red, British red. On the credit side of the balance 
sheet he could proudly show that the 250,000 square miles of 
British territory in Africa had been extended in scarcely twenty 
years to two million square miles. On the debit side, however, 
there stood in blood-red letters the expense account which for 
the Boer War alone amounted to: 

British casualties: 7,5 82 killed 

13,139 died of disease 
21,157 wounded 

1,853 missing 
Boer casualties: 6,000 killed 

16,000 children! Died in British 
4,000 women J concentration camps 
British war costs: 222,000,000 



[3853 



CHAPTER XIX 

SO MANY WORLDS 

WT. STEAD once remarked: 'The history of South Africa 
would have been different if Rhodes, Dr Jameson, Beit 
and Milner had been married men/ The fact that Rhodes 
remained a bachelor and took no interest in women led to many 
comments, rumours and insinuations which followed him 
throughout his life. It was generally accepted that he 'hated 
women*. Once, when the subject was under discussion, Rhodes 
remarked casually: 'Women! Of course I don't hate women. I 
like them, but I don't want them always fussing about/ 

Having acquired, as a result of his irregular life, all the habits 
of a spoilt bachelor, with complete freedom of movement and 
independence of set household rules, he would have considered 
a wife only as a disturbance. As a trial his sister Edith once acted 
as hostess at Groote Schuur. It did not last long and ended in 
a 'capital row'. Brother and sister were temperamentally too much 
alike. Rhodes, referring to this brief episode, said: 'Groote Schuur 
is not big enough for two Rhodes to live there together/ But it 
had nothing to do, he added, with a dislike of the other sex. The 
Queen, on his second visit to Windsor, referred to these rumours 
when she said: Tve been told, Mr Rhodes, that you are a woman- 
hater/ Rhodes later claimed to have replied: 'How could I possibly 
hate a sex to which Your Majesty belongs/ 

The gpssip-mongers were never busier than at the time when 
Rhodes, at the height of his career, came to London regularly 
and the hostesses of Mayfair competed in lionizing him. Some 
of the society women would not accept a simple 'No' for an 
answer. One of them used to wait for hours, sitting in her carriage 
in front of his hotel, to catch him and take him for a triumphal 
ride to the 'Row'. Rhodes mostly gave her the slip by using a 
back-door. 

Rhodes' mail regularly brought him what is known today as 
'fan mail', from more or less hysterical female admirers. The wife 
of a British officer in China wrote to him with every overseas 

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SO MANY WORLDS 

mail for many years until his death* She told him of her deep 
love for him, her 'Prince*, her 'Emperor*, her 'Hero*. Her husband 
with whom, as she wrote, she lived in happy union did not object 
to her letters. She signed them by her full name. Anxiously she 
gave him advice about his health and seemed very worried that 
he might be overworking. At first Rhodes was flattered, but he 
never answered her. Later he did not even read her letters. The 
same fate was dealt out to the ardent love-letters of a London 
woman, 'Sarah', who, however, was not satisfied with the 
expression of her platonic affection par distances she beseeched 
him constantly in the most pleading terms to meet her in Hyde 
Park. 

It was certainly more than his name, his millions and his 
position that attracted women. One of the few in whose company 
he felt comfortable, the Duchess of Sutherland, confessed: 'He 
could conquer hearts as effectually as any beauty that sets herself 
to subjugate mankind/ And another of his female admirers said: 
'. . . he had great grey eyes and a smile of singular and persuasive 
charm . . . like the sun on a granite hill.' 

There was only one occasion on which Rhodes showed and 
expressed an interest in female beauty. During the first Matabele 
War he and his secretary were riding over the hills when they 
met Lobengula's youngest daughter, 'the Princess', ats Rhodes 
liked to call her, a girl of sixteen or seventeen with a bronze- 
coloured, slim, and graceful body and a face of serene nobility. 
Her name, WTupusela y could not have been better chosen; it meant 
'Rosy Hue in the East before Daybreak'. Rhodes stopped his 
horse and pointed at the girl whose lithe movements seemed to 
express a silent music: 'Now, I want you to see my idea of a 
really beautiful Native girl. . . .' Without pausing, he continued 
a conversation about a financial transaction. 

To the same secretary he once explained, without any intro- 
duction, his flushed face indicating how the subject embarrassed 
him: 

'You may ask why I never married, and do you know? I answer 
you very fairly that I have not yet seen the woman whom I could 
get on in the same house with/ 

The question or was it the rumours about his misogyny that 
worried him? seemed to occupy him a great deal. To another 
of his secretaries he gave a different explanation: 

[387] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

*I know everybody asks why I do not marry- I cannot get 
married, I have too much work on my hands. I should always 
be away from home and should not be able to do my duty as 
a husband towards my wife. A married man should be at home and 
give the attention and advice which a wife expects from a husband.' 

For the same reason, that of a dual loyalty, Rhodes wanted only 
young unmarried men as secretaries. As soon as they married he 
transferred them to one of his companies. He considered their 
marriage as an act of disloyalty. At the wedding of one of his 
secretaries he congratulated the bride by saying: 1 am very jealous 
of you!* When another secretary became engaged he barked at 
the bridegroom: 'I hate people getting married; they simply 
become machines, and have no ideas beyond their respective 
spouses and offspring/ 

Experienced medical men among his friends, such as Dr 
Jameson and Dr Smartt, must have realised that the origin of 
Rhodes* heart-disease excluded the possibility of his ever getting 
married. All of them were therefore not a little astonished when 
they noticed shortly before the Matabele War that Rhodes was 
taking a deep interest in a pretty eighteen-year-old girl who had 
just left school, Maria Elizabeth Schickerling. It seemed obvious 
that Rhodes was in fact courting the girl. She was often asked to 
Groote Schuur with her parents; he frequently sent her presents 
of flowers and chocolates and once a beautiful ebony-topped 
glove-box. Rhodes took her to the theatre several times, but the 
shy girl would not go alone with him, always bringing along 
a sister or a cousin as chaperon. It seemed clear that Rhodes 
wanted to marry her and her parents appeared to favour the 
match. Maria Elizabeth, however, had more sense than, her 
parents and did not believe in the possibility of marital happiness 
between a man of forty and a girl less than half his age. It is 
questionable whether Rliodes really had matrimonial intentions. 
Probably he was only temporarily fascinated by the youth, the 
beauty and the naivety of a well-brought-up young lady. 

True friendship based on mutual esteem linked him for almost 
a quarter of a century to an old lady, Mrs Maria Margaretha 
Koopmans-De Wet, who was generally acknowledged as the 
'Uncrowned Queen of South Africa*. She came of an old Dutch 
family which had been established in the town as merchants for 
more than two centuries. After the death of her husband she had 

[388] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

taken over her family's old residence in Strand Street overlooking 
the bay. There she ruled as the centre of a new Afrikaner culture 
which had been reared on the old Dutch civilization of the Cape. 
Her position as a living Hnk between the old and the new culture 
attracted to her salon everyone of significance in the Colony's 
cultural, political or social life. For sixty years Mrs Koopmans-De 
Wet acted as unofficial political adviser to Ministers, Governors 
and diplomats, as mater confessor ', oracle and judge. President 
Kruger was a personal friend, as were Hofmeyr, Schreiner and 
Sauer, Young Smuts sat at her feet and listened with wide eyes 
to the old woman's wise and prophetic words, many of which 
were later to come true. 

Hofmeyr introduced Rhodes to the Koopmans salon just after 
he had been elected to Parliament. At first the old lady was a 
little baffled by this young man from the Kimberley diggings who 
seemed to have a patent solution for every South African problem. 
She did not keep back her own opinions. Often she told him that 
as yet he knew nothing of South Africa: 'It takes five years to 
become acclimatized to South Africa; another five years to Uke 
it; and another five years to know it/ Rhodes kept surprisingly 
quiet when Mrs Koopmans-De Wet lectured to him or scolded 
him. She liked him, however, because she was convinced of the 
sincerity of his intention to reconcile the two races. She had great 
respect for his intellect, except for the disturbing predominance 
of his materialism against which she persistently put up a battle. 

Rhodes grew so accustomed to her 'telling him home-truths* 
that when he became Prime Minister he often consulted her 
before making important decisions* It was often difficult for her 
to follow him in his political meanderings or to approve of his 
strange company of satellites. Gradually she found it almost 
impossible to understand his motives. Nevertheless she never 
ceased to defend him against the increasing number of his 
critics. 

Then came the Raid. When Mrs Koopmans heard about 
Rhodes* loneliness and the danger that he might harm himself, 
she let him know that she expected him to come and see her. 
For three hours they were closeted together in Mrs Koopmatis* 
private sitting-room. Neither of them ever disclosed what was 
said during the interview. Eye-witnesses, however, reported that 
when he left Mrs Koopmans* house, there appeared for the first 

[389] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

time in many days the old gleam in Rhodes' eyes though they 
looked as if tears had reddened them. 

Though the intimacy of their friendship had come to an end, 
she retained her respect for Rhodes as a man until the end, while 
he still held her in high esteem. 

Rhodes 3 strange friendship with Olive Schreiner lasted for only 
a few years. It ended in hatred. Olive Schreiner's hatred, however, 
was only love in a different key. Everything that Nature had 
bestowed on this genius of a woman c the only person of genius 
that any of the Colonies has produced* every episode of her 
life, her very existence, was contradictory. 

The contradiction in her intellect was partly due to hereditary 
influences. Jewish blood pulsated in her veins, which was derived 
from her mother's side though dating back several generations. 
There was indeed something of the fighting spirit of the Old 
Testament prophets in this little woman. And fight was what she 
did all her life. 

It was her misfortune to have been brought up in Darkest 
Africa where no humanitarian feelings were squandered on 
Natives and where the battle for survival between men and the 
beasts of the veld was still in progress. A mission station did not 
give an anaemic young girl the necessary sense of realism with 
which to accommodate herself to such a life. The realism of 
frontier life was m&t in the house of her parents by pious hymns 
and Wesleyan prayers, supplemented by German fairy-tales and 
German Romantic poetry. In young Olive's impressionable mind 
there arose the first contradiction: the Bible mixed with the 
sensual German romanticism fomented dissension in her brain. 

When to this strange intoxicating concoction was added the 
sobering medicine of Spencer's 'relativity of knowledge' as served 
in his First Principles^ and when into a famished intellect was 
poured Darwin, Gibbon and Buckle, it is not surprising that out 
of the little mission house there stepped a revolutionist. She 
thirsted for freedom. She wanted to live her own life. For the 
young governess who for a pittance of 30 a year had to teach 
children on lonely farms there was little hope of realizing such 
wish-dreams. She needed an antidote to the sedate routine of her 
life. She procured it for herself. In the first man she met she 
already saw her redeemer, according to the pattern of Grimm's 

[39] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

fairy-tales. All the sentimentality of the German Romantics she 
poured into her love. It did not take much disillusionment to 
sober her up and bring her to a state of psychological conflict, 
after which she had in fact been Hankering. 

Olive wanted to break out of the prison of her ego. The 
newly awakened spirit within her was to conjure out of her 
intellect a new, a fantastic existence by the magic of pen and 
paper. 

Here she could say everything she did not dare to mention in 
South Africa's narrow-minded atmosphere: she gave account to 
herself of the realities which she had not previously had the 
courage to face; she expressed her longing for liberty, for love 
and for the warmth of companionship with such realism that she 
wondered at it herself; she lived her life over again with full 
consciousness of her sins, her faults and her failings; and she 
lived her future life as she would like to live it, pouring into it all 
her lusts, her desires, her hopes and her expectations; she accused 
herself and at the same time defended her actions; she wanted 
to be free, not only free from the manacles of conventional lies, 
but free from herself; she filled page after page. 

When she went to England to stay with one of her brothers 
she took the neatly wrapped manuscript along with her. George 
Meredith as reader of a London publishing house recognized her 
great literary talent: twenty-four-year-old Olive Schreiner became 
world-famous in 1883 as the author of the sensational book The 
Story of an African Farm> the topic of conversation in the literary 
salons, the drawing-rooms and the cafs of three continents. 
Olive Schreiner was celebrated by English, American, French, 
German and Russian critics as the champion of women's rights, 
as the courageous propagandist of "free love' and the brave 
bearer of the testimony of Agnosticism. 

Her unexpected fame carried in itself the contradiction in her 
literary value. The plot of her story is feeble; its construction 
shows the inexperienced beginner; most of her figures are drawn 
from clich^ patterns; and her philosophy, courageous as are her 
thoughts, does not fit into the frame. The greatness of her work 
lies in the beauty of the language with which she paints the 
extraordinary atmosphere of the South African landscape. In her 
lyricism can be felt the influence of the German Romantics. Her 
language sometimes had the simple forcefuLness of the Old 



B.HODES OF AFRICA 



Testament. And some passages recall the poetry of the Evangelists- 
Above all, the perfectly worded ending has never been surpassed. 

Her fame brought her in contact with many literary celebrities. 
W. T. Stead called her "the categorical imperative in petticoats 5 . 
He introduced her to the circle of his friends, where she was 
approached by a young litterateur of her own age. Havelock 
Ellis, the scion of a seafaring family, had recently taken up the 
study of medicine, not so much with the aim of curing disease 
as to investigate the mystery of sex. He recognized the contra- 
dictions in Olive Schreiner's nature which, in spite of her strength 
and c for all her keen vision of the external world*, could rarely 
adjust itself to the surroundings. He experienced a tantalising 
crazy love for her. Only after he had at last been cured of his 
passion did he realize that behind the iron facade of her intel- 
lectoalism there lay *a child, a trustful, idealizing, imaginative, 
helpless child'. 

Olive Schreiner feared nothing and no one more than herself. 
She would rather fight against Nature than succumb to her 
passionate temperament. She was afraid of losing herself in 
passion. In the naivety of her maidenish romanticism she believed 
that she could sublimate sex by platonic sentimentality. Olive 
Schreiner, the apostle of 'free love*, tortured poor Ellis for years 
by refusing him her body. She even expected the poor young 
healthy man to 'coutrol the animal in him* when sharing the 
same room with her on holiday travels. Once she wrote to him: 
*When passion enters into a relationship it does spoil the holy 
sweetness/ The thirty-year-old woman ran away from sex. And 
she openly confessed her fear to Ellis: *In that you are myself, 
1 love you, and am near to you, but in that you are a man I am 
afraid of you, I shrink from you." 

Such madness could not last, but it went on for five years. 
The only profit that Ellis gained from this nerve-racking love- 
aflair was interesting studies for his Psychology of Sex. Olive's 
health was failing under the English climate, and frequent attacks 
of asthma made a permanent stay in the dry atmosphere of the 
Karroo imperative. She returned to South Africa. She lived in 
a small cottage in the lonely village of Matjesfontein, where 
besides her work there was no distraction other than to watch the 
Cape Town trains to Kimberley and to the Rand at the little station. 
Olive Schreiner, who had been active in England's Liberal 

[39*] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

movement, took a great interest in the politics of the Cape. In 
her admiration for Rhodes, who was about to take over the 
Colony's Premiership, she found herself for a time in full accord 
with her family. Her mother had elevated the 'Colossus 5 to a 
household-saint to whom and for whom she prayed. Poor little 
'Mamsie', tired and resigned, had found peace in Catholicism and 
rest for her body and soul in a little convent cell. Will Schreiner, 
now a Minister in Rhodes* Cabinet, led the family in the hymns 
of praise to his new friend. 

Here was a figure after Olive's own romantic heart: adventurer s 
pioneer, discoverer of hidden fortunes, a Croesus, one who c thinks 

in continents', a man of action, a friend to the poor Was he 

not like a knight in shining armour from one of Papa's German 
fairy books? To a friend she confessed: *I feel a curious and 
almost painfully intense interest in the man and his career/ 

She went to the House to hear him speak in 1890, Her heart 
was in flames. To her brother Will she opened wide the sluices 
of her heart: 'It's not love, it's not admiration . . . it's not that I 
think him noble or good * . . it's the deliberate feeling "that man 
belongs to me". . . .' 

In November 1890 they met for the first time. Rhodes' train 
stopped at the little Karroo station for an hour to allow the 
passengers to dine. He recognized her as she stood on the platform 
by her resemblance to her brother Will: a tiny, rather stoutish 
woman *a big person in a small compass', as the man who later 
became her husband gallantly expressed it, or, as she described 
herself, *a tall person cut short*. 

Rhodes and Olive Schreiner resembled each other in many 
respects, besides that of being often taken for Jews, Just like 
Rhodes she had received her first enlightenment on the evolu- 
tionary facts of life with the shock of a child whose belief in Father 
Christmas is suddenly destroyed. Darwin gave both of them 
intellectual indigestion. The idea of Evolution widened their 
horizons with such vehemence that they lost their way in the 
labyrinth of Materialism. Into their adult life they dragged the 
heavy load of shattered ideals. They never surmounted the 
storms and upheavals of their puberty completely. They could 
not rid themselves of their juvenile romanticism which upset the 
harmony of their minds. Just like Rhodes, Olive's mentality and 
actions were influenced by her ill-health. The irregular working 

[393] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

of his heart and the disorder of her respiratory organs created 
a permanent tension in them which they tried to overcome by 
accelerated activity. 

The thoughts of these two people rotated round South Africa, 
They both loved the country. Yet Rhodes never changed and 
never wanted to change from being thoroughly English. England 
remained his c home ? . He felt happy in South Africa because he 
liked the landscape, the people with their easy manners and the 
open-air life. And he loved South Africa because the country had 
dealt kindly with him. But his love for South Africa came nowhere 
near the Roman cosmopolitan maxim of Ubi bene^ ibi patrta. Olive 
Schreiner loved South Africa as a child loves its mother, seeing 
everything in it as the most beautiful on earth. South Africa was 
a part, the most essential part, of her emotional and intellectual 
make-up. And she felt that she was a component of this country: 
Boer, English or Native were for her not members of a different 
race or language gtoup but all South Africans. That which Rhodes 
aspired to achieve by the political means of a Federation was in 
her mind already a fact, in spite of state boundaries. *I learnt to 
love the Boer; but more, I learnt to admire him', she said; and 
she meant it because she also saw his faults. 

Though they differed widely in many spheres of their mentality 
there remained sufficient points of contact for a friendship based 
on mutual admiration. Olive Schreiner, with her higher intelli- 
gence, recognized the chasm between them but believed that it 
was only because *our friends are so different that we could never 
become close friends*. When she asked Rhodes why he surrounded 
himself with friends of that kind he lost his temper and almost 
shouted at her: 'Those men my friends! They are not my friendsl 
They are my tools, and when I have done with them, I throw 
them away I 7 Nevertheless she found him *even higher and nobler 
than [she] had expected'. 

They walked together over the purple veld and Rhodes became 
infected with the 'sense of wild exhilaration and freedom' which 
Olive always found in the breezy Karroo. Olive rejoiced at finding 
Rhodes not the *huge hard-headed man of the world' she had 
expected but c so curiously Uke a little child, that one feels so 
tender to him'. He spoke to her about her African Farm with 
an intelligence and enthusiasm such as no one, in her opinion, 
had ever shown before in talking about her work. It was no empty 

[394] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

compliment which he paid her: the book was always on his 
bedside-table and among the few which he took on his travels. 
Before he had met Olive Schreiner, Rhodes had told friends that 
the book had 'enraptured him again and again and agakf, that it 
was c a work of profound genius'. 

Later when Rhodes described this first conversation with Olive 
Schreiner, he said: 'She has me on her brain*, but he was not 
sure whether the reason was political or personal. He told her 
bluntly that 'after this book that was her own life anything else 
she wrote would be mere twaddle 3 . Olive replied angrily that she 
had plenty more books planned but was reluctant to c reveal her 
innermost thoughts to the public*. Rhodes interrupted her: 'That's 
nonsense, you've done it already/ 

They parted as good friends. When in Cape Town she was 
a frequent and welcome guest at Groote Schuur and every time 
disregarding all rules of precedence, Rhodes would ask the male 
guest of honour to take her in to dinner, or he himself would 
act as her table partner. People often remarked on the fact that 
Olive Schreiner was the only person who could make Rhodes 
listen quietly for any length of time. 

Her romantic ideas about the 'man of genius' could not fail 
to suffer disillusionment upon closer acquaintance. While she 
retained her 'strong personal admiration for Rhodes' genius' she 
soon began to express her 'strong detestation of his methods', 
especially his attitude towards Natives. It came as a shock to her 
when he told her one day at the dinner-table: *I prefer land to 
niggers.' Though she often censured him harshly and, as W. T. 
Stead called it, 'expended no small portion of her vast resources 
of vituperative eloquence upon Rhodes', she never allowed any- 
one to belittle Rhodes or even to question his greatness. To such 
a critic she once exclaimed: 'Great man? Of course he is! Who 
ever denied that?* 

She published her revised opinion of Rhodes in a series of 
parables in which she pretended that 'it came to pass that Cecil 
Rhodes died*. The Devil claimed Mm. However, the gates, doors 
and windows of Hell proved all too small to take Rhodes in* The 
BOM >/>#, hearing the commotion, asked for the reason. The 
Devil explained that he had tried every way but could not get 
Cecil Rhodes into Hell: 'He is too big!' *Ah/ said the Eon Dieu, 
'then, I suppose Cecil must come here .after all.* 

[395] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

In view of Olive Schreiner's temperament, it seems not unlikely 
that personal factors were, if not the main, at least contributory 
reasons for her final rupture with Rhodes. Towards 1893 rumours 
were heard that Rhodes was engaged to marry Olive Schreiner. 

Full of indignation, Olive denied that there was any truth in 
it. All she wanted, she told a friend, was to have a 'mother's 
friendship 3 , where men 'come and tell me their troubles and 
feelings'. She declined to discuss her relations with Rhodes even 
with her best friends, because, if 'such a beautiful thing has 
happened to a human being that they absolutely love another 
soul it must seem a terrible desecration to have other human 
beings finding it out and discussing it'. 

No, Olive Schreiner refused to say anything more on the 
subject. It seems probable, however, that Cecil Rhodes, though 
he had no objections to receiving the adoration of a famous 
authoress, and though he liked her company and found her useful 
as an intellectual ornament to Groote Schuur, would not allow 
himself to be 'mothered' by her or permit her to interfere with 
his private life, his business or his politics. Neither does it seem 
likely that he would accept the role of romantic lover in a platonic 
love intrigue. Perhaps he took the longing for 'mother's friend- 
ship' of this almost forty-year-old eternal flapper as an attempt to 
catch him in the meshes of matrimony. Whenever Rhodes 
suspected even the slightest attempts in that direction he broke 
off all connections immediately. The rumours about an engage- 
ment could not have failed to reach his ears. Thereafter he saw 
very little of Olive Schreiner. 

Olive Schreiner grew ever more censorious of Rhodes. The 
Matabele War and Lobengula's tragic end, Rhodes' intensified 
propaganda campaign against Kruger, the conditions in Rhodesia 
and his almost dictatorial rule in the Cape offered sufficient fuel 
for her attacks. She found a helpful and enthusiastic ally in a young 
farmer, Samuel Cronwright, who expressed his liberal ideas in 
a provincial newspaper in forceful leaders'. After two years of 
wooing, the forty-year-old spinster married the young man eight 
years her junior, who adopted the name of Cronwright-Schreiner. 

Their common antagonism towards Rhodes formed the firmest 
link in this strange union. Both saw in him the greatest enemy 
to peace in South Africa. Rhodes* attempts to 'square' Cronwright- 
Schreiner when he brought bis political propaganda campaign 

[396] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

into Kimberley, the very heart of Rhodes 3 domain, was, as we 
have seen, doomed to failure. 

After the shock of the sudden death of her only child, which 
was suffocated in its mother's bed a few weeks after its birth, 
Olive Schreiner's health deteriorated rapidly. She became harder, 
harsher and more vehement. The 'child in her 9 disappeared and 
instead there came to the surface the doctrinal, hard-hitting, 
intolerant intellectual Valkyrie. The Schreiner family was split 
into camps. The mother continued to see Rhodes as a superman. 
Will Schreiner was proud of his friendship with Rhodes. Those 
who were for Cecil Rhodes were, she decreed, against OEve 
Schreiner. Thus she sacrificed her family to her hatred for Rhodes. 

When the Jameson Raid confirmed her damnatory opinion of 
Rhodes she felt no sense of triumph. Tempting offers for critical 
articles on Rhodes and the Raid reached her from large news- 
papers and magazines all over the world. Though she needed the 
money badly she declined without hesitation to profit by Rhodes 5 
downfall: *I attacked Rhodes frankly and fearlessly and endlessly 
when he was in power, and therefore I can afford to be quiet 
now. . . . My feelings are a strange mixture of intense personal 
sympathy with Rhodes in his downfall, and an almost awful sense 
of relief that the terrible power which was threatening to crush 
all South Africa is broken. ... It is too terrible to think of what 
the results would have been if Jameson had not been defeated,* 

The Raid had wrecked once and for all the idealized picture of 
the fairy-tale prince which Olive Schreiner had painted for herself 
before she had met Rhodes. The end had come. She did not thirst 
for revenge. As a conclusion to this disappointing chapter she 
had to justify herself to her own conscience. Years ago he had 
told her that anything she might write after The Story of an African 
l?arm would be 'mere twaddle'. Now she would show him that 
Olive Schreiner still had something to say to the world. She sat 
down and wrote a book to show the monster Rhodes to the world 
and to herself. Trooper Peter Halket appeared in London in . 
1897 just when the Parliamentary Inquiry was in session. Even 
Rhodes* opponents disapproved of the moment chosen for its 
publication. The book caused a sensation not only because it 
accused Rhodes of the murder, rape, theft and torture committed 
by Chartered Company troops in Matabeleland but because of its 
frontispiece,, a repulsive picture omitted in later editions, of three 

[397] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

hanged Natives dangling from trees. It was an unmitigated con- 
demnation of Rhodes as a man, a politician and a colonizer. 

The last woman to cross Rhodes 5 path was so extraordinary 
that he failed to understand her until it was too late. Princess 
Catherine Maria Radziwill, nie Countess Rzewuski, came of an 
old Polish family. At the age of fifteen she was married to Prince 
Radziwill whose family ranked among the leading aristocrats of 
three countries. The prince belonged to the junior branch whose 
members had no money of their own but were kept by the head 
of the house. Catherine Radziwill, through her name, her ravishing 
youthful beauty and her intelligence., soon became a greatly 
admired member of the court in Berlin where the young couple 
occupied the family palace in the Wilhelmstrasse. She became 
a friend of the old Kaiser and the Empress and later attached 
herself to Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, the consort of Crown 
Prince Frederick. She associated not only with the crowned heads 
of Europe and with famous statesmen, but also with socialist 
agitators, artists, circus riders, authors and journalists. Her 
linguistic talent which enabled her to converse in five languages 
Russian, Polish, German, French and English made her salon 
a cosmopolitan rendezvous. 

Princess Catherine's curiosity thirsted for a wider knowledge 
of the world. Her temperament demanded an outlet for her 
manifold though superficial interests. She loved to talk and 
especially to gossip and found a rich field of activity for her 
garrulity at the Berlin court. In this hotbed of intrigue, the 
Russian Princess had sufficient opportunity to acquaint herself 
with international politics. She herself took an active part in it 
by reporting interesting details to the Tzar. Bismatck, who was 
still in full power at the time, soon found out that this Russian 
princess was working against him and an indiscreet novel which 
she wrote about Berlin court life offered him a welcome pretext 
to have her banished from the Berlin court. 

Princess Radziwill began to travel. It was said that she toured 
Europe in the company of a circus rider. The allowance which 
she received from the Radziwill family could not cover her 
extravagances. Pawnbrokers and money-lenders became regular 
visitors to her rooms. She flitted from one town to the other, 
from one country to the next. Everywhere she succeeded in 

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forcing her way into political circles after the aristocratic salons 
had been closed to her. Politics from being a hobby became an 
obsession with her. She believed that she was destined to play 
a leading role in international affairs. 

The Princess had no inhibitions. Those whom she wanted to 
meet she managed to meet somehow. Her greatest efforts were 
directed at becoming acquainted with the millionaire rulers of the 
financial world. Such friendships, she had discovered, brought 
many advantages: one dined and wined well in their homes; the 
hospitality of their country seats provided a cheap holiday in 
luxury; they all loved to show their importance by dropping 
useful tips for the share market. Their share tips one could hawk 
to other people and thus establish one's position as a prophetess. 

There was one person whom she had not been able to ensnare 
in spite of prolonged efforts. Only once did she succeed in 
obtaining an invitation to a dinner party in Rhodes' honour, but 
she failed to gain his attention. 

During the second Matabele campaign when Rhodes was 
camping on the veld, his secretary one day handed him a thick 
blue envelope which bore a large embossed crown and was 
marked 'private'. When he opened the letter, a small Russian gold 
coin dropped out. Rhodes had to read through the communica- 
tion twice before he could understand it. The coat of arms and 
the large crown startled him. Princess Radziwill? Who on earth 
was Princess Radziwill? His secretary reminded him that she had 
often called at the Burlington Hotel but he had not wished to 
receive her. 

A strange letter: she wrote that she was 'blessed or cursed with 
the gift of second sight* and had had a foreboding that his life, 
a life so precious to the British Empire, to the future of South 
Africa and also to his many admirers to whom she was proud 
to belong was in danger as an attempt on it would be made 
within the next six months. She asked him to accept the enclosed 
gold coin as a talisman. With Matabele warriors lying in ambush 
for him behind every tree it was not difficult, Rhodes decided, to 
predict danger to his life even if one was not blessed with the 
supernatural faculties of a Cassandra. He told his secretary to 
thank the lady in the usual form and, occupied as he was with 
more important matters, he immediately forgot about her. 

He was reminded of her existence again a few months later 

[J99] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

when he received another letter. This time she asked him for 
advice as to how she should invest a recent inheritance of 
150,000. It was more likely that the Princess at the time did not 
own even 150,000 farthings, as she was considerably in debt. 
Rhodes, though he rarely used a pen, answered the letter per- 
sonally. A real princess, and one who apparently owned some 
money, could not be given an answer through a secretary. He 
declined to give advice, carefully explaining that experience had 
taught him how people when they had luck forgot to thank him 
and when his tips proved wrong blamed him for their losses. 

When Rhodes left London for South Africa in 1900 he was 
exhausted. His business had detained him longer than he had 
planned, so that he had had to postpone his departure five times. 
The Union Line always made great efforts to provide this eminent 
passenger with all possible amenities and the greatest comfort in 
absolute privacy. At his departure, an official representative of 
the ship's company found it necessary to inform him that a 
Princess Rad&hvill had inquired several times at their London 
office by which ship Mr Rhodes was travelling, but that of course 
they had refused to give any information. She must have learnt 
about it from other sources, however, because every time Mr Rhodes 
cancelled his booking so did the Princess, until finally she booked 
her passage on this ship. Of course her request to have a cabin 
next to that of Mr Rhodes* suite had been refused, since as usual 
the whole wing of the deck had been reserved for Mr Rhodes and 
his party. Also as usual, it had been arranged for Mr Rhodes to 
use the captain's deck, and in the dining-saloon the usual corner 
partition had been reserved for him and his party. 

They had just finished the fish course when the door was thrown 
open and in swept Princess Radziwill. Dramatically she paused at 
the door. Her entrance, as well as her whole appearance, was 
obviously designed to cause a. sensation, though her elegance was 
a little outmoded and just on the verge of being shop-worn. Her 
approach was heralded by a dense cloud of perfume and the 
sound of rustling silk, brocade and taffeta, as though to warn 
men to be on their guard. According to her own calculations 
she was just over twenty, but, in spite of her cosmetic and sartorial 
efforts, there remained sufficient evidence of her real age which 
was nearer thirty. 

With a studied expression of bored unconcern she glanced over 



SO MANY WORLDS 

the dining-saloon. When she saw Rhodes in a corner she put on 
an exaggerated act of sheer surprise and restrained joy. Before 
Rhodes had a chance to prepare himself against her menacing 
intrusion she stood beside him. He could not help offering her 
a chair. Though on his instructions it was pointed out to her 
that another table had been reserved for her, she took all her 
meals at Rhodes' table. 

At first Rhodes was interested in her conversation. She had 
come well prepared. The weeks of waiting for her departure she 
had spent in reading up everything available on South Africa 
and Rhodes, so that he should consider her well informed and 
sharing his opinions. During the first few days he was amused 
by her stories. She took his interest for encouragement and began 
to discuss delicate subjects with such frankness that Rhodes was 
often made to blush. She told him about a cruel husband who 
was ruining her life so that she had decided to save herself by 
a separation. It would take a long time to procure a divorce and 
she therefore wanted to spend a year in South Africa. 

These confidences made Rhodes feel uneasy. His embarrass- 
ment reached its climax when one day the Princess fainted into 
his arms. Helplessly Rhodes had to hold his aristocratic burden 
until such time as his secretary came to his rescue. For the rest 
of the journey Rhodes took his meals in his private saloon. 

She came to Groote Schuur so often that Rhodes frequently 
had to hide, and when at the end of 1900 he returned from 
Rhodesia he was pestered again by her ambuscades. In the mean- 
while she had started a political journal, Greater Britain, which 
Rhodes had helped to finance. When her paper quoted remarks 
which he had uttered casually at table, he declined to discuss 
politics any longer with her or in her presence. The Princess, 
however, still tried to draw him into political discussions until 
finally he had to raise his voice and tell her that she would have 
to stay away from his house if she did not comply with his wishes. 

In Rhodesia, shortly before Rhodes left for England in July 
1901, his doctor and friend Dr Scholtz told him that the Princess 
was in financial difficulties, owing about 3,000. Rhodes told 
him to pay her debts as well as her fare to England and asked him 
to see that she left South Africa as soon as possible. The Princess, 
however, stayed on ia Cape Town. She still pretended to be on 
the best of terms with Rhodes. Knowing that the surest and 

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RHODES OF AFRICA 

quickest way of making a rumour public property was to confide 
in another woman under the seal of secrecy, she whispered to her 
best friend that Rhodes, when in Cape Town, came to see her 
every night in her hotel room, entering the hotel in disguise by 
a secret passage. A few days later she confessed to the same 
friend, again in greatest confidence, that she was engaged to 
marry Rhodes but that they both wished to postpone the official 
announcement until a later date. Not long afterwards she consulted 
her friend as to which rooms she should occupy at Groote Schuur. 

Rhodes, who knew nothing about the calumnies spread by the 
Princess, arrived in London in July 1901 . His friends were shocked 
when they saw him: death was plainly written on his face. His 
doctors were anxious to get him out of the heat of London into 
a cooler climate. He himself felt ill. The pain in his chest never 
stopped and made breathing difficult. He often sat up whole 
nights. During the day Rhodes forgot his ailment. He worked 
as hard as ever. 

Once, when Dr Jameson examined him, Rhodes asked him: 
*At any rate, Jameson, death from the heart is clean and quick, 
there is nothing repulsive or lingering about it; it is a clean death, 
isn't it?* 

Dr Jameson was by no means a soft man, but he had to turn 
away quickly so as not to show his embarrassment. 'Yes, of 
course of course/ he replied and allowed his words to sound 
as casual as possible. 

Finally his doctors succeeded in persuading him to take a long 
rest. He hired a shooting-lodge in Perthshire, to which he 
invited his friends, Jameson, Beit, Maguire and others. Among 
the guests one week-end was a young red-haired former 
Hussar lieutenant who had made a name for himself as a 
war correspondent and through a courageous escape from a 
Boer war-prisoners' camp. His name was Winston Spencer 
Churchill. Though only in his middle twenties this young man 
entertained the whole party by his witty stories, quick repartee 
and inexhaustible humour. Rhodes, though he had disliked the 
father, became very fond of the son, admiring his sparkling 
intellect, his energy and his fceal, "powers which/ Rhodes said, 
*in conjunction with 'Ms dash and "go", must inevitably bring 
him to the front'. 

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SO MANY WORLDS 

In October 1901 Rhodes together with Beit, Jameson, Metcalfe 
and his secretaries travelled to the Continent, It was Rhodes* 
first pleasure trip. Besides Brussels and Berlin he knew no other 
towns. They first went to Paris, where he felt well enough to spend 
many hours visiting museums which he enjoyed immensely. Next 
he and his party motored to the South of Italy, after short stops 
at Lucerne and Venice. In Florence they stayed for several days. 
It was Rhodes' first experience of travelling in a motor-car and 
the speed gave him a boyish pleasure. 

On his way to and from Beira Rhodes had often passed through 
the Suez Canal and every time he had said that the next time he 
would spend a few weeks in Egypt. He now travelled from Caird 
up the Nile. During the journey he talked for hours about 
Egyptian history. The Pharaohs he admired because many of 
them, like true 'men of action', had taken up the fight against 
Nature to save their nation from destruction by famine. He was 
impressed by the ancient irrigation works, especially by the Nile 
dam at Assuan, which he compared with his plans to provide 
water for the sun-drenched thirsty soil of Rhodesia. 

His mind wandered down to his own South African domain. 
By now he had probably admitted to himself that the discovery 
of the Land of Ophir, of a new Rand reef, would always remain 
no more than a 'dream'. One would possibly find other, less 
valuable minerals, such as copper and coal there which were 
already being mined in paying quantities. He consoled himself 
with the thought that the future of the country would depend 
largely on its agricultural products. A rich soil was there and a 
suitable climate, sufficient and cheap labour and a good transport 
system. Rhodesia might easily become the granary and cattle- 
kraal of the Empire. And Rhodes, who regarded agriculture as 
an industry like any other productive enterprise, had realized 
that in order to grow crops or rear cattle, one had to employ 
scientific methods and invest a lot of money before profits could 
be reaped. He wrote regularly to his farm managers in Rhodesia, 
always giving them exact orders on how to proceed with the 
next crop. He sent them several bags of Egyptian maize after he 
had noticed that it grew there with a minimum of water and under 
conditions very similar to those in Rhodesia. These samples of 
maize grew exceptionally well on Rhodesian soil and have since 
become the standard crop there. 

[403] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

When Rhodes saw a team of donkeys plodding along the tow- 
path of the Nile, he compared them with the far weaker though 
larger Rhodesian breed. He selected thirty stallions to be crossed 
with the Rhodesian donkey and the result, still noticeable today, 
shows Rhodes' great foresight. 

In spite of the warm weather Rhodes did not tire of sight- 
seeing, especially among the excavated ruins. He loved Egypt. 
One evening, sitting on the terrace of his hotel in Cairo, he told 
his friends that he could find true happiness in the peace and 
pure atmosphere of the desert where, in the shadow of the 
Pyramids, he would forget the dirt and accusations flung at him. 
He closed his eyes and, speaking softer and slower than he had 
ever done before, he painted an almost poetic picture of the quiet 
loveliness of the Nile. 

Every day, as they travelled south, the Egyptian December 
sun became stronger until the heat and the flies, mosquitoes and 
other loathsome insects made the journey most unpleasant. 
Rhodes' improved health began to deteriorate again so rapidly 
that Dr Jameson insisted on an immediate return to England. 
Rhodes 7 repeated heart-attacks were not improved by cabled 
reports from Cape Town informing him that promissory bills 
bearing his endorsement and the signature of the Princess 
Racbdwill had been negotiated there. 

Rhodes immediately cabled instructions to his Cape Town 
manager to insert advertisements in all the papers warning people 
that he had never signed any bills and would not be responsible 
for them. 

In January 1902 he arrived in London. All signs that he had 
benefited by his holiday had vanished. A great deal of work as 
well as excitement and annoyance awaited him* His health broke 
down completely. It was the first time that his energy proved 
insufficient to overcome the weakness of his heart. He became 
even more impatient than usual when his doctors confined him 
to bed. For the pettiest reasons he jumped out of bed, ran across 
the room and swore and shouted until he fell into a chair exhausted 
and doubled up from the tantalizing pains in his chest. Whoever 
dared to argue with him would immediately have a cascade of 
curses poured over him. Those who differed with him on any 
point were c up to mischief*. He could not bear to be kept waiting. 
If he ordered refreshments and they were not brought to him 

[404] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

within a minute or two his face became distorted and black with 
rage. 

If his friends arrived only a few minutes after the appointed 
time he felt neglected and almost ready to cry. To Dr Jameson 
he complained: *A third of your life is lost in waiting for people 
who fail to keep their appointments and trying to find out if your 
friends axe telling the truth/ 

With the object of removing Rhodes as quickly as possible 
from London, where he only insisted on exerting himself in spite 
of his serious condition, Dr Jameson advised him to buy a 
country estate. Thus Rhodes became the squire of the old Dalham 
Hall estate near Newmarket which he bought unseen from 
photographs. He made his final decision as soon as he saw in 
the game book that 1,700 partridges had been shot there in the 
first four days of the season. To Jameson he said jokingly that 
he had 'dotted the earth with resting houses, having a shooting- 
box in Scotland, his country place near Newmarket, his two 
farms in Rhodesia, his fruit-farm in the Cape Western Province, 
his little house in Kimberley, his suite in the Burlington Hotel 
and, of course, Groote Schuur. And all FU soon need/ he con- 
tinued, *as that damned rude fellow said, will be a place six foot 
by four six foot by four six . . / 

Preparations were already being made for Rhodes to take up 
residence at Dalham Hall when news came from Cape Town that 
again promissory notes bearing Rhodes* endorsement, to a total 
value of about 2 5 ,000, had been negotiated by Princess Radziwill. 
She had succeeded in having most of them discounted. Those who 
had advanced money to the Princess against these bills now sued 
Rhodes when they found that his endorsement was not honoured. 

Rhodes fumed with rage. He immediately decided to leave for 
Cape Town so as to be present at court. Dr Jameson and other 
friends tried to dissuade him from exposing himself to the heat 
of a Cape summer, but Rhodes would not hear of asking per- 
mission to give evidence on commission in London, fearing 
that an admission of his state of health would seriously affect the 
share market. 

'Damn that woman! Why can't she leave me alone?' he groaned 
and, clutching his chest, he sighed: *I know it will upset me. The 
heat of Egypt bowled me over, and to go back to the Cape now 
that the hot weather has set in is more than I can stand. Look at 

[4oj] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

my pulsel . . / A last attempt was made to have the case postponed 
until cooler weather set in, but reports from Cape Town indicated 
that a postponement would be regarded as an admission that 
Rhodes was afraid to face the music. Rhodes shouted: 'Me afraid 
of facing the music? Me afraid! Of course I'll face the music; damn 
that woman!' Friends tried to tell him that after all 25,000 was 
a comparatively paltry amount which he should rather forgo 
than endanger his health. He replied: 'It's not the money, but no 
risk will prevent me clearing my character of any stain in con- 
nection with that woman/ 

On 16 January 1902 Rhodes together with Dr Jameson and 
some members of his staff left for Cape Town. The day after bis 
arrival the civil case against Rhodes for payment of the bills 
came up in court. Rhodes was able to prove that he had never 
signed any bill and demonstrated that his signature had been 
forged with the help of tracing paper. The Princess, who was 
called as witness, did not appear. Rhodes won the case. 

Rhodes' legal friends immediately advised him to institute 
criminal proceedings for forgery and fraud against the Princess, 
but he declared firmly that he was not interested in having her 
prosecuted. The Public Prosecutor, however, had already taken 
up the case ex offitio and the next day the Princess was arrested, 
but admitted to bail. 

When the preliminary examination began in the Magistrate's 
Court the next day the Princess sent in a medical certificate 
excusing her absence. The magistrate decided to hold court in 
the cottage which she had rented in Muizenberg. 

Rhodes, called as a witness, repeated that he had not signed 
any bills and that the letters used by the Princess to convince 
people of the incredible fact that he should have given her a 
number of blank promissory notes to be filled in by her for any 
amount required, were forgeries* 

The Princess seemed to be blissfully unaware of her precarious 
situation. Haughtily she looked through her lorgnette at the 
lawyers and witnesses, giggled into her kce handkerchief or 
talked happily to her solicitor. The forgeries she had committed 
were of such infantile clumsiness that one wondered how anyone 
could have believed in the genuineness of the bills and letters. 
One of her silly artifices had been to send herself telegrams in the 
name of Rhodes' London lawyers, for which puipose she had 

[406] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

bribed a telegraph boy to alter the name of the Cape Town 
sending-office to read London KG*. Probably the men who 
discounted the bills, at the enormous rate of 40 per cent, thought 
that Rhodes would pay them in the end so as not to be involved 
in a scandal. 

Taking her cue from the case of the mysterious telegrams at 
the Committee of Inquiry, Princess Radsdwill claimed that she 
had in her possession discreet letters and confidential documents 
which referred to Rhodes and Milner. In the interest of the 
British Empire, she could not reveal them though they would 
prove her innocence beyond a doubt. She had acted, she said, not 
only with the consent of Mr Rhodes, but in his interests in order 
to save his reputation. Mr Rhodes, she maintained, was only 
being misled by his friends who wanted to destroy her because 
she knew too much. 

Poor Princess Racbiwill! Up to her neck in debt and with 
all her credit exhausted, she had taken these desperate steps in the 
hope that Rhodes would not let her down. What was 25,000 to 
a man who possessed millions? And now he was allowing his 
jealous minions to influence him to be c so nasty' to her. The 
prosecutor and magistrate, too, were being 'awfully rude' to a 
lady of her rank, making such a fuss about some little stories she 
told them as though a woman in trouble wasn't allowed to tell 
a few little white lies. If they would only communicate with the 
Tsar or her friend the Kaiser; if only her brother were at home 
if only they would give her some time. It would be so easy to get 
this ridiculous amount of 25,000 not quite 250,000 roubles, 
a sum which a Rarewuski would think nothing of betting on a 
card in the Nobility Club of St Petersburg'. She would throw the 
money in their faces. A shame how they treated Princess RadziwiU, 
fife Countess Rzewuski, the friend of Royalty! . . . She had to 
suffer because she had believed and still believed in Rhodes. She 
would keep quiet and could not reveal her secrets because Cecil 
Rhodes was still her friend. He would undoubtedly settle this 
trifling matter the next day. 

The Princess was cruelly awakened from her day-dreams when 
the magistrate announced that the accused was indicted on twenty- 
four counts of fraud and forgery. The case was sent for trial at 
the Criminal Session of the Supreme Court. A few weeks later 
she was sentenced to two years* imprisonment. 

[407] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Rhodes left court immediately after giving evidence. When he 
arrived at Groote Schuur the pain in his chest was stronger than 
ever before. The intensity of the pain increased and spread to his 
neck, down his arms and to his shaking hands. He felt as though 
somebody was drawing together the inside of his chest with 
barbed-wire, pulling it tighter and tighter until his heart could 
no longer beat freely and breathing became almost impossible. 
Large drops of sweat covered his face. Yet he felt cold and 
shivered. "Everything in the room whirled around him. He 
could not move. 

At first he did not know where he was. It was his own bed. 
But how had he got there? There was Dr Jim with his friendly 
face, trying hard to smile, leaning over him > holding his hand in 
his own strong white hand while with the other he took up a syringe. 

*Tell me, Jameson/ Rhodes said almost inaudibly, *tell me, is 
this the end, Jameson?* 

The doctor swallowed several times before answering: 'Not 
quite but it's damned serious.* 

Dr Jameson and the other two doctors who attended him could 
not keep Rhodes in bed. The next day he was sitting in^the 
library with Michell, the former bank manager who was in charge 
of all his business and private affairs, discussing his last will and 
testament. It bore the date i July 1899 an< ^ was a voluminous 
document with several codicils attached. This was his sixth will 
and there was not much left in it of the juvenile romanticism with 
which he had filled the pages of his first testament written on that 
rainy night in Kimberley exactly twenty-five years before. 

Rhodes had removed the name of W. T. Stead from the list of 
trustees of his estate in 1901. There remained Earl Rosebery, 
Earl Grey, Beit, Milner, Michell and Hawkesley, and Rhodes now 
directed Michell to add the name of Dr Jameson to the list. 

Rhodes' friendship with Stead had lost some of its intimacy 
during the passionate days of the Boer War when Stead had been 
one of the leading Boer-sympathizers and had pleaded against the 
annexation of the Transvaal. 

At their last meeting, in 1901, Rhodes told him: 'I would annex 
the planets if I could. I often think of that,* Stead shook his head 
and said: f l regret that they did not send you to jail at the Inquiry 
in 1897.' At the end of the argument Rhodes told Stead: *. . * If 
in future you should unfortunately feel yourself compelled to 

[408] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

attack me personally as vehemently as you have attacked my 
policy in this war, it will make no difference to our friendship. 
I am too grateful to you for all that I have learnt from you to allow 
anything you may write or say to make any change in our 
relations.* They parted as friends. 

Rhodes thumbed through his will. He had put his house in 
order. Provision had been made that all his intentions should be 
promptly carried out after his death. The value of his property 
no one could express in figures since most of his money had been 
invested in ventures in Rhodesia and Central Africa where no 
immediate returns could be expected. There were millions of 
pounds in shares of railways, of telegraphs and of mines all over 
Africa from the Cape to deep into Central Africa and of 
industrial, commercial and trading companies. His trustees would 
find the title-deeds to the tremendous ranches in Rhodesia, to his 
farms in the Cape, to his property of Groote Schuur, to valuable 
building land in all Rhodesian towns and to mining and water 
rights in Rhodesia for which the Rhodesian Government, after 
a legal battle, which lasted for twenty years, eventually had to 
pay millions to Rhodes* executors. But among all these assets 
which represented the fruit of Rhodes' labour over a period of 
more than thirty years only the shares of De Beers and Gold- 
fields were paying dividends. 

All his fortune went into a trust fund to be controlled by his 
executors. Groote Schuur, his residence and the adjoining 
property, he left as an official residence for the future Prime 
Ministers of a united South Africa. With touching forethought 
he provided an amount which was to be used to keep for the 
future Prime Minister *at least two carriage horses, one or more 
carriages and sufficient stable servants . . . keeping and main- 
taining in good order the flower and kitchen gardens , . . two 
competent men servants to be housed, kept and employed. . . / 

His Dalham Hall estate he settled on his brother Colonel Frank 
Rhodes and his male heirs, while the remainder went to his brother 
Ernest and his male heirs with a provision in order to prevent 
a loafer* from enjoying his property that future heirs to the 
estate must 'have been for at least ten consecutive years engaged 
in some profession or business, such profession or business* 
and here Rhodes again showed his dislike for everything military 
- *not being that of the Army*. 

[409] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

His attachment to Ms old college at Oxford he expressed by 
leaving Oriel College a sum of 100,000. Remembering the poor 
dinners and indifferent wines which had been served to him when 
he was entertained by the Dons, he left a further 10,000 *by the 
income whereof the dignity and comfort of the High Table may 
be maintained by which means the dignity and comfort of the 
resident Fellows may be increased*. 

The realities of life had taught a maturing Rhodes that the 
ideas and ideals which he had cherished in his enthusiasm for 
British Imperialism a la Ruskin in his youth would find no under- 
standing among the new generation of a new era. For his Secret 
Society there was no hope in the future of introducing a Pax 
Britannica. Britain had finally established herself as the predominant 
world power and all that was needed was a consolidation of her 
position which could only be brought about, as Stead had taught 
him, by world peace. He wanted to prepare a better form of 
Pax T$ritannica> based on a supra-national understanding between 
the nations which were linked by racial ties. If Britons, British 
Colonials, Americans and Germans were given an opportunity 
to know each other better these nations would be drawn closer 
together and would form a bloc sufficiently powerful to guarantee 
permanent peace. 

Such was Rhodes' idea when he founded the Rhodes Scholar- 
ship at the University of Oxford by which 60 students from the 
British Colonies, 100 Americans and 15 Germans, selected per- 
sonally by the Kaiser, were to receive 250 p.a. (the amount 
be|ng later augmented by the Trustees) for a period of three years. 
Rhodes stipulated that qualification for the scholarship should be 
independent of race or religious opinion. 

For the selection of the students by the Trustees Rhodes gave 
the fallowing qualifications *as mere suggestions for the guidance 
of those who will have the choice of students . . . who shall not 
be merely bookworms*: 

I his literary and scholastic attainments. 
II his fondness of and success in manly outdoor sport such as 

cricket, football and the like, 

III his qualities of manhood, truth, courage, devotion to duty, 
sympathy for the protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfish- 
ness and fellowship. 

[410] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

IV his exhibition during school days of moral force and character 
and of instincts to lead and to take an interest in his school- 
mates. . . * 

Rhodes had discussed these qualifications thoroughly with 
various people and before he made his final stipulations he had 
explained his point of view to Stead and Hawkesley: 

'First there are the three qualities. You know I am all against 
letting the scholarships merely to people who swot over books, 
who have spent all their time over Latin and Greek. But you 
must allow for the element which I call "smug" and which means 
scholarship. That is to stand for four-tenths. Then there is 
"brutality", which stands for two-tenths. Then there is tact and 
leadership, again two-tenths, and then there is "unctuous recti- 
tude"', two-tenths. . . .* 

With trembling hands he put bis signature to the last codicil. 
He was exhausted. Another attack followed within the next few 
weeks. Again he could not lie in bed as the doctors had prescribed. 
Listlessly he dragged himself from one room to another, resting 
on a couch for a few minutes, Changing over to a chair and then 
wandering through the rooms of Groote Schuur gasping for 
breath, 'like a caged animal', as one of his secretaries said. A wind- 
less heat-wave made it impossible for him to sit outside. Even in 
the darkened rooms the heat was becoming unbearable. His whole 
body was bathed in perspiration. Every piece of clothing was too 
much; even the lightest pyjamas he tore open. 

Sometimes, towards evening, he would ride in his motor-car. 
He took a childish delight in whizzing along the road at the 
devilish speed of 20 m.p.h. It made him feel better. 

The doctors, hoping that he would find some relief at the sea- 
side, sent him to Muizenberg, an idyllic fishing village on False 
Bay, where he had recently bought a simple cottage in preparation 
for building a house there. The cooling sea breeze allowed him 
to breathe more freely. The spasms in his chest became less 
painful. For hours he would sit in front of his cottage looking at 
the rollers breaking into bubbling foam against the t ocks below. 
But then there followed nights of agony, with the terrifying 
feeling that the poor labouring heart had come to a stop. He 
moaned and groaned and wanted to cry out. He would not have 
a nurse. One of his secretaries always sat beside him. Sometimes, 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

in his dreadful struggle, Rhodes would ask him to hold his hand 
or to cool his hot head by putting his hand on his forehead. 

A specially large window was knocked out of the front wall of 
the three-roomed cottage to give him as much fresh sea air as 
possible. The thatched roof was opened in various places and 
buckets of ice placed there, and a fan was installed over his 
bed. 

He could no longer get out of bed. His legs had become drop- 
sical. Silver tubes had to be inserted to drain the fluid from 
his body. For a day or two he would feel slightly relieved. He 
was propped up in bed so that he could watch the road and the 
little fleet of fishing-boats in the bay. His breathing was easier 
when he sat up, but the efforts to raise himself were so strenuous 
that often his head would drop back. 

One day he asked Toni to bring him a file out of his desk. 
The doctors were afraid that he would start working again and 
thus cause a new, perhaps the final, attack. Out of an envelope, 
however, Rhodes took several small amateur photographs. For 
some minutes he stared at them, until they dropped to the floor. 
Dr Jameson picked them up: they were snapshots of his eldest 
brother's grave: *A great, a very great gentleman, Herbert was/ 
came Rhodes' soft hoarse voice. Toni was called again at mid- 
night: *I am sick of the damn jellies, beef teas and custards, Toni, 
these damn doctors force me to swallow. Grill me a couple of 
nice chops on an open fire as we had them on the veld. And 
bring me with it a tankard of iced champagne and stout the old 
Kirnberley mixture/ 

Toni, afraid to let his master break the prescribed strict diet, 
reported Rhodes' request to Dr Jameson. The doctors knew that 
he had only a few more days to Hve at the most and that up to 
now death had been delayed only by his iron constitution. Dr 
Jameson therefore replied: *Let him have it. Nothing will hurt 
him any longer/ 

It gave the doctor and the servant great pleasure to see the 
patient finish his meal with a ferocious appetite, while he poured 
down the cooling drink in quick large gulps, sighing: *Ah, that 
makes a man of one!' A few days later, also at midnight, he felt 
inclined for a guinea fowl and a bottle of Hock. Soon afterwards, 
however, he was again plagued by the agony of a choking attack. 
In spite of being convulsed with piercing pains he no longer 



SO MANY WORLDS 

complained or groaned. Though his face was contorted, only a 
soft sigh escaped his lips. When the attack had lessened and he 
was again alone, Toni and one of the doctors in attendance in the 
next room heard the dying man talk. They thought that he might 
be delirious or talking in his sleep. Rhodes, however, was wide 
awake. From the daily Bible lessons which the children of the 
Vicarage had had to endure before they were allowed to play, 
much had remained in his memory. Now, on the verge of death, 
he wanted to draw up the balance-sheet of his life. When Rhodes 
had wished to reason with someone he had always put his 
arguments in the form of questions to which he supplied his own 

answers: 'You'll ask and I answer you fairly 5 In a colloquy 

with God he now put the questions and gave the answers, count- 
ing up frankly and ruthlessly all his shortcomings, faults, sins and 
crimes. 

Did the ghost of Grobler, the Transvaal envoy in Matabeleland 
who had been killed in ambush, appear to him? Did he see the 
regal figure of Lobengula, dying on his flight, robbed of his 
country? Did he remember the masses of black corpses mown 
down by machine-gun fire in Mashonaland and Matabeleknd? 
Could he hear the piercing shrieks emanating from the caves in the 
Matopos where women and children had been dynamited to force 
their men to surrender? Was he disturbed by the tears of the 
numerous mothers, wives and sweethearts who longed for the 
young soldiers buried under a wooden cross in South Africa? 
Did he recall the burnt homesteads of thousands of Boers, the 
women and children who had died in concentration camps? Was 
his conscience troubled by the thousands of pensioners and 
widows, the little folk who had lost the savings of a lifetime 
through Chartered shares and were now paupers? Did he think 
of the thousands of strong healthy Natives who had come to work 
in the mities of Kimberley and die Rand and went back to their 
kraals with maimed limbs or their lungs eaten away by phthisis, 
or of those, more fortunate, who were killed instantly by a rock, 
a fall or a machine? Perhaps he compared his own fate with that 
of the man to destroy whom he had devoted almost thirty years 
of his life. Did he visualize, now, in the struggle with death, this 
venerable old man Paul Kruger, almost an octogenarian, sitting 
in a villa in Switzerland, a homeless lonely refugee, his small wise 
elephant-eyes reddened by tears, his voice hoarse from praying, 

[413] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

Ms once imposing body bent by sorrow, longing for his land, his 
family, and the blessed soil of the Transvaal? 

Cecil Rhodes could not have been fully satisfied with his 
achievements. In this hour of departure he recited Job's lament 
that he had not died in infancy: 

For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have 
slept; then had I been at rest with kings and counsellors of the 
earth, which built desolate places for themselves. . . . 

Yes, he had done his job. He had painted the map of southern 
Africa red, British red. For his 'dreams* he had sacrificed his 
health, his life and all that he had gained from gold and diamonds. 
And the result? He had not intended that the Imperial Factor 
should step in and take over so that the military gentlemen and 
civil servants and politicians, from 6,000 miles away, should rule 
half a continent blindfold by a policy of vengeance. Cecil Rhodes 
had to learn that, after all, he had only been a pawn on the chess- 
board of British Imperialism. In Whitehall South Africa had lost 
her significance as an individual unit. For the urgency of British 
imperial global strategy, for Britain's economic life, South Africa 
bore value only as a link in the British Empire. In helping to forge 
this link Rhodes had been welcomed, but if he had dared to 
separate the link and hammer it into an independent ring he would 
have been stopped. 

A deep sigh escaped Rhodes' tortured chest. A stanza from 
Tennyson's In Memoriam came to his mind and he spoke it slowly 
like a prayer: 

So many worlds, so much to do, 
So little done, such things to be. ... 

To the astonishment of Dr Jameson who had just entered the 

room he muttered over and over again: *So much to do So 

little done So much to do. . . / 

As he had so often done in discussions with his friend Stead, 
he mused on the sense of Life: 'From the cradle to the grave 
what is it? Three days at the seaside. Just that and nothing more. 
But although it is only three days, we must be doing something, 
I cannot spend my time throwing stones into the water. But 
what is worth while doing?' 



SO MANY WORLDS 

He became quite upset when he was told that the Archbishop 
intended to come and see him. No, he did not want him. He had 
his own religion which did not need a church or a priest. He 
asked his secretary to pass him a little book. The worn binding 
and soiled pages with numerous pencil marks indicated that the 
owner must have carried it with him for many years and made use 
of it constantly and intensely. It was a pocket edition of Marcus 
Aurelius' Meditations. His 'pocket bible', Rhodes used to call it. 
Wherever he went the little book always had to be handy and in 
his bedroom it was kept on his night-table. He pointed to a 
passage, heavily underlined, and asked that it be read to him. 
As the secretary, his voice almost choking, began to read how 
the Roman Emperor consoled those who feared the approach of 
death, the dying man's lips moved as though pronouncing each 
word: 

You have been a citizen of the great world-city. Five years or 
fifty, what matters it? To every man his due as law allots. Why then 
protest? No tyrant gives you your dismissal, no unjust judge, but 
nature, who gave you the admission. It is like the praetor discharging 
some player whom he has engaged "But the five acts are not 
complete; I have played but three/ Good: Life's drama, look you, 
is complete in three. The completeness is in his hands who first 
authorized your composition, and now your dissolution. Neither 
was yoi#r work. Serenely take your leave; serene as he who gives 
you the discharge. 

He rested for a while. Toni was called: 'Bring me the Argus 
that I can see what they write about my illness These damn 
medicos never tell one the real truth/ When the doctors had seen 
that he would last only a few more days, his friends, knowing 
that the published bulletins would only upset him, had had a 
special copy printed daily which stated that he was making good 
progress and that a quick recovery could be expected. To cheer 
him up they had also altered the quotations of his shares which 
had dropped considerably after the news of his illness to show 
a rising tendency. 

The equinoctial storms which usually bring cooling north- 
westerly winds and often rain had not arrived towards the end 
of March. The heat-wave over Cape Town and its suburbs con- 
tinued with unabated intensity. Gasping for air, his face puffy 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

and purple, his clammy hands holding his aching chest, he lay 
motionless as though waiting for death. Suddenly Jameson 
noticed that he was trying to turn his face away from the window, 
while muttering almost inaudibly: *Damn that woman! Why can't 
she leave one alone?' Jameson instinctively looked out of the 
window. There indeed he saw the heavy figure of Princess 
Radziwill, decked out in her usual shabby finery, about to pass 
Rhodes' cottage again in her peculiar gliding gait. 

He was still fully aware of what was going on around him. 
Once, when he heard that his servant George, a Coloured *boy', 
had been rude to someone at the gate, he scolded him and 
punished him by making him sit up with him the whole night. 
He ordered him to sit up straight in a chair opposite him. The 
tired servant, when he thought his master had fallen asleep, began 
to make himself more comfortable, but Rhodes had noticed the 
movement and told him, shaking his fist at him jokingly: *Sit 
there you just sit thereP 

Besides Toni, all three of his secretaries were constantly in 
attendance, together with three doctors and his brother Elmhirst 
who had just arrived from England on holiday. A few of his 
friends were admitted to the sickroom for a few minutes at a time, 
Molteno was so touched by the "tragical and pitiful sight' that 
he could not speak. Afterwards he said: *I can compare Rhodes 
now to a great setting sun, low down in the west, and the con- 
suming fire within was burning him up/ 

Garrett came to see him and also had to hide his emotions when 
he saw Rhodes Very stoical and noble about it after the end was 
in sight, only sometimes there was a caged-soul look in his eyes'. 

On about 22 March the doctors noticed that their patient was 
slowly sinking. He had to be kept almost permanently under 
oxygen. The news was flashed over the whole world. Editors sent 
instructions to their 'morgues 9 to prepare the necrologues of 
Cecil Rhodes. 

Neither the contemporary writers sitting in judgment over 
him, nor later biographers, could do Cecil Rhodes full justice. 
The former were too close to a period of transition, with its 
birth of Britain's African colonies and all the ugly labour con- 
nected with the consolidation of the British Empire. Thus, no 
matter whether the opinions on Rhodes were favoutable o 
condemning, they were all slanted in accordance with the events 



SO MANY WORLDS 

of the time. Men of the twentieth century, on the other hand, can 
have less understanding of a 'man of action* like Rhodes, the 
typical product of a time of forceful expansion in political, 
economic and social spheres. The political morality of our times 
has changed. The nineteenth century had a different moral code, 
especially in colonial matters, from what we pretend to have 
today. Some of his contemporary judges could thus come nearer 
to what is probably an unbiased opinion of Rhodes than we can 
arrive at today. 

J. C. Molteno, in his memoirs, came to the following con- 
clusion: 

The ordinary man cannot judge Rhodes, for he cannot understand 
him. The world can tolerate few men like Rhodes, and certainly 
only one at a time. Some think and say he was the last great English- 
man, One may not say it aloud, but think it, thank God, and Rhodes 
was man enough not to think but to say it. His ambition and his 
knowledge of his bad health were his only excuses. 

No one loved him more than W. T. Stead. Thus his final 
judgment may be accepted as a fairly just one: 

For with all his faults, the man was great, almost immeasurably 
great, when contrasted with the pigmies who pecked and twittered 
in his shade. It is seldom in the annals of the empire that one man 
has been permitted in his brief career to illustrate both the qualities 
which build up empires and faults which destroy them. . . . 

Garrett called Rhodes an 'historical necessity 9 . Ex-President 
Cleveland, on hearing about Rhodes' illness, remarked to a South 
African parliamentarian visiting Washington: "America would 
pay three hundred million dollars for Cecil Rhodes. You have got 
him for nothing; make the most of himP 

During his lifetime two novels were published in which Rhodes, 
in very transparent disguise, was the main figure: Anthony Hope's 
The God in the Car and Morley Roberts' The Colossus. In the latter 
work the Author describes Loder (Rhodes) as 'the concentrated 
essence of England': 

He was a representative, and 'not an individual; his passions, 
thoughts, pkns, and desires had the force and vagueness charac- 
teristic of all Britons, not of one. . . . He is not ordinary: he is a 
microcosm; you ask absurdities when you ask him to be moral with 

[417] 



RHODES OF AFRICA 

the morality of Brixton. You might as well require geography to be 
moral or electricity or a steam engine. . . . He is not a man; he is a 
kind of floating island, a movable England, the colonizing, grabbing 
instinct made concrete. . . . Behind his nature was the sombre and 
powerful genius of the English nation. It worked, as he worked; it 
was strong and it was petty; it was cruel, it was kind; it knew no 
scruples, yet sometimes shied at very shadows; it was inexorable as 
death, energetic as the sun itself, as cruel as hate, as childlike as mere 
folly bland, bktant, inevitable, humorous. . . . 

An old enemy, Wilfrid S. Blunt, could not even let this sad 
occasion go by without some biting remarks: 

. . . Rhodes was one of those of whom one always had to ask oneself: 
*Quel intfaet peut-il avoir en mourant? ... I think he really blundered 
and blustered and pretended to be wise to people who looked upon 
him, on account of his first successes, as an oracle. I have seen just 
the same thing at Homburg in the old gambling days, when a man 
who had broken the bank once was followed by admiring crowds, 
who credited him with supernatural intelligence, and went on 
believing in him till the day he lost all and disappeared. . . . 

The newspaper men, anxiously waiting for the news of Rhodes' 
death, were surprised to learn on 23 March that Rhodes would 
sail for England in three days' time. 

The news was a fact. On Sunday afternoon, 23 March, Rhodes 
thought that he felt better, a symptom known as euphoria which 
clearly indicated that the end was near. Rhodes declared that he 
wanted to go to England. He was like a lion wanting to go to 
his old den to die. It was no use arguing with him. It would 
only have distressed him and caused a new attack. Df Jameson 
only told him that transport over the bad roads might kill him 
before he reached the ship. Rhodes remained adamant. Workmen 
had to work day and night to install electric fans, a refrigerating 
plant and an oxygen tent in the cabins reserved for Rhodes in the 
mailship Saxon. 

Even on the morning of Wednesday, 26 March, Rhodes hoped 
that he would be able to sail in the afternoon. Towards midday 
he became unconscious. While Rhodes was fighting his last battle 
for his life a telegram arrived from Naples; 'God be with you. 
Jan Hofmeyr/ Rhodes was no longer able to grasp this token of 

[418] 



SO MANY WORLDS 

reconciliation from an old friend who had not spoken to him for 
more than six years. 

Rhodes awoke from his stupor in the afternoon, but he soon 
became restless and his distorted face showed that he was in pain. 
His eyes were wide open. In a soft voice he sang to himself. It 
sounded like a hymn. Dr Jameson had just gone out of the room 
for a smoke. In a clear voice Rhodes asked for Jameson. He took 
his friend's hand and held it in a weak grip. His voice was hoarse 
as he muttered to Jameson: 'So little done, so much to do.' 

A few minutes before six o'clock he turned his head slightly 
and closed his eyes. Dr Jameson did not need to feel his pulse: 
he knew that Cecil J. Rhodes was dead. 



INDEX 



INDEX 



A K b- v JL f * r ' .. !> 
Abercorn, Duke of, 175, 00 

Aborigines Protection Society, 

91, 92, 96, 102, 180, 268 
Afrikaans, 74 
Afrikaner Bond, 74-6, 80, 94, 



Alcock, Sir Rutherford, 43-4 
Allen, James Lane, T& O<?/r 

Invisible 9 249 
Amalgamated Gold Fields of 

South Africa; see Gold Fields 

of South Africa 
Arnold, Sir Edwin, 44, 172 



Babyaan, 137, 158, 183, 334 
Bailey, Abe, 281, 297 
Baines, Tom, 139, 140, 179 
Baker, Herbert, 243-4, 246 
Balfour, Arthur, 170, 220 
Barkly West, 69-70, 19^-6 
Barnato, Barney, 106-23, 128, 

281, 297, 360-2 
Barnato, Harry, 107-9 
Barotseland, 207, 209 
Bechuanaland, 27, 84-7, 89-92, 
95, 102, 104^ 231, 267-70, 
369; see Bechuanaland police, 
Goshenland, Stellaland 
Bechuanaland Exploration Com- 
pany, 168-9 



Bechuanaland police, 155, 186, 

,v' 1 88, 191, 198-9, 201, 210, 
227, 2369, 268, 288, 299 

Beira, 223-7 

Beit, Alfred, 56-9, 126-8, 149, 
168, 179, 222, 297; Barnato 
transactions, no, 114 17, 120 
122; friendship with Rhodes, 
58-60, 68, 277, 402, 403, 408; 
in British S. A. Company, 169, 
170, 175, 226, 266, 324; 
Johannesburg rising, 278, 285, 
300, 323, 341, 349 

Belgium, 77, 89, 198, 205 

Bell, Moberly, 163 

Berlin, congress on colonies, 89 

Berliner National Zeitung, 356 

Bishop's Stortford, 3 

Bismarck, Prince, 43, 87-8, 91, 
170, 171, 206, 250-1, 305 

Bloemfbntein, Bishop of, 150 

Blue ground, 50, 109 

Blunt, W. S., 418 

Boers, 13, 19, 26-7, 77, 78, 84, 
91, 99, 100, 139; see Kruger, 
Pretoria Convention, Trans- 
vaal 

Booth, General, 220 

Bosungwana, 239-40 

Bower, Sir Graham, 144, 155, 
158, 185, 242, 269, 84, 286, 
289,290, 293, 35*, 353 

Brand, President, 132 

British South Africa Company: 
forming of, 169, 179, 196; 
Charter, 177, 178, 180-1, 



[4*3] 



INDEX 



British South Africa Company 

contd. 

185, 190-1, 304, 315, 318, 
320, 324-5, 351, 353; support 
for, 175^ 181; opposition to, 
177, 189; police force., 202, 
208, 223, 226; financial fluctua- 
tions, 222, 229, 230, 253, 266, 
320, 328, 330, 364; acquisi- 
tions, 208, 209, 235, 240 

Bullet, General Sir Redvers, 381 

Bullingdon Club, 36 

Billow, Baron Bernhard von, 

373> 375* 376 . 
Burdett-Coutts, Baroness, 174 
Burgers, President, 77 
Burns, Robert, 250 
Butler, Sk William, 377 



Cambridge, Duke of, 339 
Cambridge University, 4 
Cameroons, 89 
Cape Colony, 5, 70-1, 73, 76, 

87, 214, 298 
Cape Parliament, 69, 324; see 

Progressive Party; see also 

under Rhodes 
Cape Times 9 66, 265, 365 
'Cape to Cairo', 44-5, 171-2, 

174, 175, 178, 181, 205, 213, 

253 

Cape Town, 72 
Cape Town, Archbishop of, 

313-14 

'Caprivi ZipfeP, 206 
Carrington, General Sir Fred- 

erick, 332 
Cawston, George, 165, 168-70, 



Central Search Association, 168 



Cetywayo, 24 

Chaka, 138-9, 239 

Chamberlain, Joseph, 41, 95, 
164-5, 167, 173, 189, 267-9, 
296-305, 317-18, 321-2, 327, 
343-4, 348, 350-1, 353-6, 
366, 370, 378-9 

Churchill, Lord Randolph, 96 

Churchill, W. S., 402 

Coal, 193, 370 

Cohen, Louis, 108 

Coillard, Francois, 256-7 

Colenbrander, Johann, 3 3 45 , 

336 

Colesberg Kopje, 21 
Colquhoun, Archibald, 208 
Committee of Inquiry; see Jame- 
son's Raid 
Copper, 370 

Cotton planting, 9, 1 1-14 
Cronje, General, 307 
Cronwright, Samuel, 257-8, 396 
Currie, Sir Donald, 11516 



D 

Daily Chronicle, 209 
Daily Mail, 378 
Daily News, 320 
Daily Telegraph^ 42-4 
Dalham Hall, 405, 409 
Dalston, 175 
Damaraknd, 88 
Dawson, James, 147 
De Beers Central Company, no 
De Beers Consolidated Mines, 
122, 124, 125, 168, 181, 193, 

222, 254, 28O 

De Beers Diam6nd Mining Com- 
pany, 50, 64, 83, 121, 123 

De Beers Mine, 28-9, 49, 64, 68 9 
no, in, 116, 121 



[4*4; 



INDEX 



Delagoa Bay, 12, 211-12, 306-7 

de la Key, 93, 105 

d'Erlanger, Baron, 175 

de Souza, Manuel Antonio, 208 

De Villiers, Lord, 259 

de Wet, Sir Jacobus, 228 

de Worms, Baron, 167 

de Worms, G. & A., 175 

Diamond Syndicate, 124 

Diamonds, 9-10, 12-13, 16-22, 
28, 32, 33, 47-9, 51, 65, 
71, in, 112, 137-8, 255-6; 
see Blue ground, De Beers, 
Diamond Syndicate, French 
Diamond Mining Company, 
Illicit Diamond Buying, 
Kimberley 

Dingaan, 239 

Disraeli, Benjamin, 39, 40, 45 

Dunn, John, 24 

Dunvegan Castle, 341 

Durban, 29 

Dutch, 70-1, 74; see Afrikaner 

Dutch East India Company, 26 

Du Toit, Reverend S. J., 74, 75, 
90, 94, 98, 102, 228 



Eton, 4 

Exeter Hall; see Aborigines Pro- 
tection Society 

Exploring Company, 149, 158, 
165, 166, 168; see Maund, E. A. 



Fairfield, K, 300, 301, 318 
Farquhar, Sir Horace B., 175 
Ferreira, Colonel Ignatius, 229 
Fife, Duke of, 175 
Fort Charter, 203 
Fort Macloutsie, 210 
Fort Salisbury, 203, 209, 234 
Fort Victoria, 203, 233-4 
Fortnightly Review, 163, 173 
France, 89, 205 
Freemasonry, 36 
Free State Express, 219 
French Diamond Mining Com- 
pany, no, 117-19 
Fry, John, 148 



Edward, Prince of Wales, 174-5, 

*53 345* 362, 376 

Ellis, Havelock, 392 

England: expansion in Africa, 
19, 44, 91-2, 143-6, 151, i5 2 > 
166-7, 171-3, 226, 238, 298; 
policy in Cape Colony, 70, 71, 
74, 76; prestige, 356; relations 
with Transvaal, 40-1, 78, 79, 
90, 194, 267, 274, 300, 377-^5; 
treaties with Germany and 
Portugal, 206-8 



Garrett, Edmund, 265, 277, 292, 
*93> 33*> 343* 345> 365, 4*6, 
417 

Gaulois, 302 

Gaza concession, 224 

Gazaland, 223, 224, 227 

Germany, 40, 42, 77, 87-91, 141, 
143, 170, 173, 187, 198, 205-7, 
302, 35~9> 375-6; see 
Bismarck, Wilhelm II 

Gibbon, Edward, 249-52 

Gifford, Lord, 165, 168-70, 175, 
179 



[425 



INDEX 



Gladstone, W. E., 19, 41, 43-53 
78, 79, 88-90, 95, 171-2 

Gold: concessions, 137-59; dis- 
coveries of, 27, 39, 40, 84, 
126-8, 139, 209; methods of 
mining, 126, 193-4, 264, 280; 
prices, 193, 265, 360-1; pros- 
pects, 181, 221-3, 229-30, 
253, 266, 298, 328, 364; see 
Gold Fields of South Africa, 
Ophir, Witwatersrand 

Gold Fields of South Africa, 130, 
131, 169, 181, 193, 195, 223, 
254 

Goold- Adams, Colonel H., 236-9 

Gordon, General, 81-2, 334 

Goschen, Lord, 171 

Goshenland, 85, 92-4, 97, 102 

Greater Britain, 401 

Grey, Earl, 300, 408 

Grey, Lord, 175, 303, 319, 325-7, 

330, 333* 365, 368 
Griqualand, 13, 19, 42, 69 
Grobler, Pieter, 142, 146-7 
Grobler Treaty, 142, 145 
Grootboom, John, 334, 338-9 
Groote Schuur, 243-5, 247, 259, 

276, 326, 364, 409 
Gun-running, 12-13 



Harrow, 4 
Hatchards Ltd., 251 
Hatzfddt, Count, 306 
Hawkesley, Bourchier, 318-19, 

324, 327, 352-4,408,411 
Heany, Major, 283, 284, 289 
Heligoland, 206 
Helm, Reverend C. D., 152-3, 

156-8, 174 

Hicks-Beach, M., 370, 371 
Hofmeyr, Jan Hendrik, 74-6, 

80-1, 89, 92, 95, 195, 197-8, 

203-4, 217, 289, 293-5, 3 13-15, 

317,418 

Hohenlohe, Prince, 306-8 
Holden, Captain, 283 
Holstein, Baron von, 305-8, 373 
Hope, Anthony, The God in the 

Car, 417 



I 



Ice-machine, 29 

Illicit Diamond Buying, 58, no, 

124, 125 
Investor's Review, 357 



H 

Hamilton, Frederic, 277, 284 
Hammond, J. H., 283, 314, 323 
Harcourt, Sir William, 217, 231, 

321, 3*6, 327, 346-50, 351-5, 

371 

Harris, Frank, 256 
Harris, Dr Rutherford, 260-1, 

268^ 277-8, 281-5, *95> 500-1, 

303-4, 319, 341, 343, 350, 351 



J 



Jameson, Leander Starr: early 
history, 53-5; friendship with 
Rhodes, 54-6, 58, 68, 129, 
241, 253, 261, 262, 344-5, 
3 67-8, 402-6, 408, 41 2, 41 8-1 9; 
Barnato transactions, no, 112, 
1 14, 1 22; relations with Loben- 
gula, 158-9, 187, 189-92, 201, 
233-41; part in British S. A. 
Company, 169, 223, 227-9, 



[426] 



INDEX 



232; part in expansion of gold 
territories, 202, 208, 222, 224; 
smallpox, 85, 239; see Jame- 
son's Raid 

Jameson's Raid, 277-8, 281-3, 
285-90, 293-5, 304-7, 309, 
310, 314, 317, 321, 323, 326, 
389, 397; Inquiry into, 327, 
343-58 

Joel, S. B., 114, 122, 281, 314, 
361 

Johannesburg, 126, 130, 132, 
193-4, 264 

Johannesburg rising, 265-79, 
281-95, 299-303, 314; see also 
Jameson's Raid 

Johannesburg Star, 293 

Johnson, Frank, 201, 203 

Johnston, Harry Hamilton, 
171-3 

Joubert, Pieter, 94, 140, 212, 
227, 232 



Kitchener, Lord, 371, 372, 376, 
383,384 

Knorr, Admiral, 308 

Knutsford, Lord, 154, 165-8, 
170, 177, 178 

Koopmans-DeWet, Mrs, 388-90 

Kruger, Paul: leadership of 
Boers, 78, 98-100, 232, 368, 
413-14; expansion of Trans- 
vaal, 86, 94, 97, 100-2, 142, 
171; relations with Europe, 91, 
146, 296, 299, 306, 308; 
relations with Rhodes, 102, 

105, I 3 I, I94~5, 211-12, 220, 

227-8, 265-7, 376, 377> 379; 
distrust of foreigners, 132-4; 
Johannesburg conspiracy, 
292-4, 323, 361; see Boers, 
Transvaal 



K 

Kaiser; see Wilhelm II 
Katanga basin, 370, 373 
Kekewich, Colonel R. G., 381, 

383, 384 

Khama, 146-7, 238 
Kimberley, 16-18, 21, 22, 24, 

34, 51, 58,67,69, 380-3 
Kimberley Central Company, 

107, no, in, 113, 115-17, 

119-21, 123 
Kimberley Club, 107, 121, 122, 

201, 382 

Kimberley Literary Society, 257 
Kimberley Mine, 21, 28, 106, 

109-11, 113, 115, 117 
Kipling, Rudyard, 247 



Labouchere, Henry du Pre, 167, 
176, 241, 320, 324, 326, 327, 

346, 348,349 ; 353 
Lawson, Sir Wilfred, 344 
Lendy, Captain, 233-4 
Leonard, Charles, 277, 281-6, 

288 
Leopold II of the Belgians, 43, 

90, 372-3 
Leslie, David, 40 
'Letter of Invitation', 287-8, 

304, 378 
Lewanika, 209 
Leyds, Dr, 105, 301, 306, 375, 

380 

Lippert concession, 189, 232 
Lippert, Edward A., 57, 149, 

187-9 
Lloyd George, 378 



INDEX 



Lobengula: negotiations with 
concession hunters, 137, 139- 

142, 144-6, 148-5 1, 165, 168, 
169, 171, 182-4, 188, 189; 
Rudd concession, 152-9, 167, 
178, 1 86; letters to Queen 
Victoria, 165-6, 185-6, 235; 
resistance to British S. A. 
Company, 190-2, 202, 220; 
elimination of, 232-42; treasure 
of, 138, 183, 232, 236, 239, 240; 
see also under Jameson 

Loch, Sir Henry Brougham, 
199-201, 209-13, 226-8, 231, 
234, 236, 237, 240, 269, 299 
300 

Lodge, Senator Henry Cabot, 

255 

London Convention, 1884, 142, 

143, 171, 267 

London Missionary Society, 152, 

268 

Lotje, 137, 157, 183 
Low, Sir Sidney, 163 



M 

Mackenzie, Reverend John, 91-3, 

96, 97, 102, 176 
MacMahon, General, 43 
MacNeill, Swift, 160-1 
Maguire, T. R., 34, 149, 150, 

*5 6 > i75> 184, 3 2 > 3 J 9> 354, 

402 

Majuba Hill, 78, 142 
Manicaland, 207-8, 224-7 
Marcus Aurelius, 252, 415 
Marks, Sammy, 376 
Martin, Sir George, 247 
Martin, Sir Richard, 329, 338 
Marx, Karl, 37 



Mashonaland, 141, 158, 165, 190, 
192, 198-203, 206, 209-11, 

220-2, 2.27-30, 232-4 

Matabele, 139, 236-9, 328-38 
Matabeleland, 27, 1383 139, 141, 

1 60, 162; see Lobengula 
Matabeleland Scandal^ The, 241 
Mauch, Karl, 27 
Maund, E. A,, 149, 152, 150-8, 

165, 166 

Maund concession, 179 
Meade, Sir Robert, 300, 351 
Merriman, John Xavier, 25, 197, 

203, 292, 317, 324, 363 
Metcalfe, Charles, 34-5, 169, 

173. 403 

Methuen, Lord, 383 
Michell, Sir Lewis, 362, 408 
Milner, Sir Alfred, 366-9, 377, 

378, 381, 384, 385,407,408 
Milner, Lord, 220 
Missionary Road, 27, 83, 84, 86, 

87 
Moffat, Reverend J. S., 145-7, 

151, 152, 154, 157, 158, 183, 

185, 186, 232, 235; see MofFat 

Treaty 

Moffat, Robert, 139, 145 
Moffat Treaty, 171 
Molteno, J. C, 197, 363, 366, 

416, 417 

Morning Leader ; 320 
Moscow Gazette, 356 
Mount Hampden, 203 



N 

Namaquaknd, 88 
Napoleon, 249 
Natal, 5, 9 

News of the World, 378 
428] 



INDEX 



Newton, Sir Francis, 144, 155, 

158, 234, 269, 351 
New York World, 316-17, 380 
Nineteenth Century, The, 204-5 
Norris, J., 259-60 
Nome lie Kerne, 379 
Nyasaknd, 173, 206 
Nyasaland agreement, 179 



O 

Ophir, Gold of, 27, 84, 127, 176, 

182, 210, 403 

Orange Free State, 19, 1701 
Oriel College, Oxford, 31, 410 
Oriental Company, no 
Oxford University, 30-45, 83, 

376; see Oriel College, Rhodes 

Scholarship 



Paarl, 197 

Pall Mall Gazette, 161-3 

Parnell, Charles Stuart, 160, 161, 

163, 164 

Peacock, Sophia, 5, 8, 9 
Pfeil, Count, 150 
Phillips, Lionel, 279, 299, 300, 

3*4> 3*3 

Pickering, N. E., 68-9, 129 
Plumer, Colonel, 330 
Pondoland, 240 
Forges, Jules, 57 
Portugal, 77, 89, 141, 143, 191, 

198, 205, 207-8, 223-7, 36 
Pretoria Convention, 79, 90 
Progressive Party, 363, 378 
Prout, Colonel, 371 
Fung we River, 224-6 



R 

Radziwill, Princess, 398-402, 
404-7, 416 

Railways, 29, 91, 132-3, 168-9, 
177, 193, 195, 211, 215, 223, 
253, 266-7, 359, 368-74 

Rand; see Witwatersrand 

Reade, Winwood, The Martyr- 
dom of Man, 25 

'Red Caps', 21, 28 

Renny-Tailyour, E. R., 149, 187, 
188 

Review* of Reviews, 254, 324, 378 

Rhodes, Cecil John: 

I, General: birth and educa- 
tion, 6-8, 10, 12, 15, 19, 20, 
31-3, 34-6, 44, 45, 83; char- 
acter, 5-8, 15, 16, 23, 33, 37, 
55, 63, 67, 113, 216, 244, 
250, 260-1, 263, 363; health, 
9, 26, 31, 46, 47, 52, 68, 215, 

216, 262-3, 3 2<5 > 359~ 6o 3 6 3> 
367-8, 388, 402, 404-6, 408, 
411-13, 415-16; love of talk- 
ing, 24, 35, 60, 72; interests 
in art, literature and history, 
25, 247-52; social status, 33-6, 
244, 253-4, 324, 366; reputa- 
tion, 67, 97, 104, 125, 248, 

*5 8 > 339> 37 6 ; 'sq 11 ^ 11 ^ 70, 
82, 161, 182, 195, 204, 254, 
256-7, 367; interest in power, 
112, 114, 128, 254, 365} 
relations with Press, 161-3, 
176, 200, 204-5, 256, 326; 
treatment of natives, n, 15, 
250, 328-9, 33,5-7* 38*; agricul- 
tural activites^ 26-7, 218, 367, 
403-4; interest in flowers, 
245 -6; private 200, 246; houses 
and privateproperty, 26-7, 132, 
175, 243-5, 405; entertaining, 



[429] 



INDEX 



Rhodes, Cecil John contd* 
259-60; attitude to women, 
386-402, 406-7; private in- 
come, 254, 275-6; honours and 
achievements, 252, 376, 414, 
416-18; friendships, 24, 53-6, 
58, 59, 68-9, 8l ~ 2 > I2 9> 403; 
see also Schreiner, W. P.; 
death, 418-19; wills, 62-3, 
69, 220, 339, 362, 408-11 

II. 'Business Activities; goes 
to Africa to plant cotton, 9, 
11-14; activities in diamonds, 



64-7, 83, 107, 110-25, 
interests in Bechuanaland, 27, 
83, 85, 86, 89, 92-7, 101-4, 
209-10, 369; activities in gold, 
126-9, X 3> *3*> 177, I95> 
222-4; activities in Matabele- 
knd, 143-59? l8 4-9> 2 3 2 "~42, 
256, 330-8; work for British 
S. A. Company, 160, 162-82, 
220-1, 223, 230, 364 

III* ^Political Activities: in- 
fluence of Ruskin on, 37, 38, 
60; writes to Disraeli, 39; 
imperialism, 60-3, 68, 333; 
wish to 'eliminate the imperial 
factor', 79, 86, 97, 105, 164, 
176, 195, 205, 213, 238; plans 
for unity and expansion in 
S. Africa, 73, 104, 205, 220, 
264; in Cape Parliament, 69- 
72, 83, 88, 197, 198, 203-4, 
206-7, 214-15, 217-19, 310, 
314-15, 363, 365-6; alliance 
with Afrikaners, 74-6, 80, 
197-8, 217; belief in federa- 
tion, 160-1, 205, 385; rela- 
tions with Kruger, 133, 142, 
187, 2ii-i2, 232, 376-7; meets 
Queen Victoria, 212-13; 

[430 



Liberalism, 231; interest in 
Ireland, 160-1; relations with 
Chamberlain, 164-6, 296-301, 
318-21, 327; northward ex- 
pansion in Africa, 172, 190-3, 
195-6, 198-203, 208-11, 224-7, 
231-2, 240-1; resistance to 
Boers, 227-9, *57-8, 280; 
Johannesburg revolt and 
Jameson's Raid, 265-70, 274, 
277-9, * 8 *795> 302, 310-13; 
relations with Milner, 368-9; 
results of Jameson's Raid, 
315-18, 320, 321, 323-4, 327-8, 
3 3 9~5 8> 3 60-2; activities 
during war, 37985 
Rhodes, Edith, 5, 6, 251, 321, 386 
Rhodes, Ernest, 4, 5, 409 
Rhodes, Reverend Francis 

William, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 22 
Rhodes, Frank, 4, 5, 7, 16, 23, 3 1, 
104, 278, 282, 314, 321, 323, 
409 
Rhodes, Herbert, 4, 5, 9, 11-14, 

16, 21, 22, 26-8, 68, 412 
Rhodes, Louisa, 6, 7, 22, 30 
Rhodes, Samuel, 175 
Rhodes family, 4, 175, 251 
Rhodes Scholarship, 410-11 
Rhodesia, 241 

Rhodesia Railway Company, 359 
Ripon, Lord, 179, 23 i, 234, 299, 

300 

Roberts, Lord, 383, 384 
Roberts, Morley, The Colossus, 

417-18 
Robinson, Sir Hercules, 92, 95, 

96, 104, 143-4, *54 S 155* *5 8 > 
176-7, 1 86, 269, 274, 289, 

33~"4> 353 

Robinson, Joseph Benjamin, 
65-7* 69, 126-8, 195, 224, 
278, 297 



INDEX 



Rolleston, Captain, 9, 13 
Rose-Innes, 203, 324 
Rosebery, Lord, 164, 166, 231, 
232, 269, 274, 300, 302, 343, 

345 > 349> 373> 4<>8 
Rothschild, House of, 58, 117- 

120, 122, 128, 130, 163, 174, 

181, 193, 230 
Rothschild, Nathaniel Mayer, 

first Baron, 117, 163, 164, 172, 

220, 223, 343, 345 ^ , 
Royal Geographical Society, 174 
Royal Horse Guards, 190-1 
Rudd, Charles DuneM, 24, 26, 28, 

29, 32, 49, 50, 60, 68, 127, 

129-31, 148-53^ 1^8-70, 175, 

Rudd concession, 152-60, 167, 
178, 179, 184, 186, 189, 199, 
227, 232 

Ruskin, John, 37-8, 60 



Saint James Gazette y 163 
Salisbury, Lord, 143, 160, 170- 

173, 175, 178, 203, 205-7, zz ^y 

274-5, 297, 306, 309, 318 

323, 344, 362, 373 
Samoa concession, 375 
Saturday J&view, 194, 256 
Sauer, Hans, 112, 126-9, X 97 

*3, *37> 3*7 33 5> 337> 349> 

363 

Saxon* 418 
Schickerling, Maria Elizabeth, 

388 

Scholtz, Dr, 401 
Schreiner, Olive, 204, 257-8, 

341-2, 390, 391, 39*-7; 

Trooper Peter Halket> 3 41 , 



397-8; Story of an African 

Farm, 391, 394-5, 397 
Schreiner, W. P., 197, 218, 286, 

289, 291-3, 310, 313, 317, 

324-5, 341-2, 362-3, 393, 397 
Secoconi, 12-13 
Secret society, Rhodes' pkn for 

British expansion, 62-3, 162, 
* 219, 220, 410 
Seeadler> 307 

Selborne, Lord, 300, 343 
Selous, Frederick Courteney, 

174, 192, 199, 200, 202, 203, 

208, 234 

Shangani River, 239 
Shaw, Flora, 301, 303, 304, 319, 

350, 35i 

Shepstone, T., 188-9 
Shippard, Sir Sidney Godolphin, 

62, 144^* 151* X 5*> 154-8, 

185, 188, 209 
Sigcau, 240-1 
Slavery, 181, 329 
Smith, 'Scotty', 84 
Smuts, Jan Christiaan, 60, 198, 

257-8, 378 
Somabulane, 336 
South Africa, policies for, 39, 

41, 74-6, 79, 80, 104, 264, 367 
South African League, 364 
South African Republic, 78, 90; 

see Ttansvaal 
Southey, Sir Richard, 10 
Spectator y Tbe> 229 
Sprigg, Sir Gordon, 317 
Stanley, H. M., 42-4, 170, 206 
Stead, W. T., 161-3, 219, 220, 

241, 254, 324, 345, 349, 378, 

386, 392, 395, 408, 410, 411, 



Stellaland, 85, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 

102 

Stellenbosch, 198 



:43i] 



INDEX 



Stent, V., 335, 357 

Strop Bill, 217 

Sutherland, Duchess of, 387 

Sutherland, Dr, 9, 10, 12-14, 

*5> 3 1 
Swaziland, 227 

Swaziland convention, 212 
Swinburne, Sir John, 177 



U 

Uganda, 206, 231-2 

Uitlanders, agitation for alien 
franchise, 264-5, *79> 377, 
378; see Johannesburg rising 

Umkomaas Valley, 9, n, 13 

Umsheti, 137, 158, 183 

Umdligazi, 137-9 

United Concessions Company, 
168, 179 

University College, 3 1 



Tantallon Castle, 362 

Tati district, 27, 177, 179 

Telegraph, 177, 193, 253 

Temps, Le, 356 

Thompson, Frank R., 149-51, 
153, 156, 182-7, 189, 277, 
285 

Times, The, 27, 40, 65, 104, 126, 
132, 141, 160, 163, 176, 194, 
219, 304, 317 

Togoland, 89 

Transvaal: expansion, 19, 94, 
138-42, 212; gold in, 39, 40, 
127, 132, 264-5, *8o; relations 
with Germany, 299, 307, 
375-6; annexation of, 40, 41, 
45, 77, 165; self-government 
restored to, 79; alliance with 
^Orange Free State, 170-1; 
Reform movement in, 277-8, 
281, 287, 314, 321, 361; coal 
in, 193; friendship with Cape, 
265; English designs on, 266, 
366, 368, 377-85; see Boers, 
Jameson's Raid, Johannes- 
burg rising, Krager 

Transvaal Naturalization Law, 
279 

Travellers' Club, 324 

Truth, 167-8, 241, 320 

Twain, Mark, 357-8 

[43* 



Van Niekirk, 92, 93, 95, 96, 102 
Van Pittius, Gey, 92-4 
Varzin, Bismarck's farm, 88 
Verschoyle, Reverend John, 163, 

172 
Victoria, Queen, 70, 142, 145, 

157-8, 165-6, 185-6, 191, 207, 

212-13, *35> *5*, 38-9> 372, 

375, 386 

Vincent Club, 36 
Von Bieberstein, Baron Mar- 

schall, 307, 308 



W 

Warren, General Sir Charles, 

95-7, 100-4, 141. 144 
Waterboer, 16, 19 
Wernher, Julius, 57-8, 121 
Westminster budget, 357 
White, Hon. 'Bobby 9 , 318 
Wilds, Oscar, 36-7 
Wilhelm II, Kaiser, 33, 60-1, 

173, 206, 275, 299, 305-9, 

373~5 

Williams, Gardner, 128 
Williams, Ralph, 144 



INDEX 

Wilioughby, Sir John, 225-8, Z 

268, 288 

Witwatersrand, 126, 195, 264-5 Zanzibar, 89 

Wolff, Dr, 278, 283 Zola, Emile, Germinal., 249-50 

Wright, Whitaker, 297 Zulus, u, 15, 142, 189, 239; ses 

Wyndham, George, 327, 343 Cetywayo, Chaka 



[433] 




c 



114237